January 24, 2002
The Dead Sea is located along the northern extension of the African Rift and forms part of the border between Jordan and Israel. Situated at the mouth of the Jordan River, the Sea has no outlet and is the saltiest body of water on Earth, with salt concentration up to seven times that of ordinary seawater.
The Dead Sea lies within the lowest area of dry land on the surface of the Earth and is getting lower. In 1930, the surface of the Dead Sea was 390 meters (1,280 feet) below sea level. By 1999 the level had dropped to 414 meters (1,360 ft) below sea level, losing six meters since 1992 alone. Diversion of regional rivers and streams for human needs has contributed to the drop, as well as the high rate of evaporation in the arid environment. Evidence of old shorelines can be seen on the peninsula in the image above acquired by space shuttle astronauts aboard STS 100.
Not only is the water level dropping, the land surface itself is subsiding at a rate of 2 to 6 cm per year, confirmed by recent interferometric syntheic aperture radar satellite measurements. This drop is probably due to a combination of tectonic movement and the lowering of groundwater in general.
North is to the bottom of this image which is about 30 by 40 kilometers in size.