The Dead Sea is probably one of the best known water bodies on Earth. This hyper saline lake is located in a depression, which is part of the Jordan Rift Valley. With its lake shoreline lying about 426m below mean sea level (as of June 2012), it is the lowest place on Earth. The Dead Sea borders Israel, Jordan as well as the West Bank areas, which are under Palestinian control. Since there is no outlet, the water of the Dead Sea evaporates (approx. 8 Million m³ of water per annum) leaving salt behind. The average salt content of the Dead Sea is approximately 28 %.
In around 1976, the sea level fell below the elevation of an east west ridge, leading to the division of the Dead Sea into two parts, a deep northern basin and a much shallower southern basin. The sea level of the northern basin has continuously been decreasing since then and the southern basin would have been dried out by now if it wasn’t for the chemical abstraction industry pumping water into it from the northern basin. Curiously enough, the water level of the southern basin has been rising in recent years. This is due to the deposit of commercially unattractive salts at the bottom of the basin, leading to a rise in the water level.
Flora and Fauna in the catchment area
In the surrounding mountains, in the oases, marshes, and in temporary rivulets many plants and animals occur, among them leopards, the antelope species steenbok, and the griffon vulture. The Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea basin are among the most important migration routes for the Black and White Stork and many other bird species on their migration route from the breeding areas in Eastern Europe and the Middle East to Africa.
The landscape is characterised by a rock massif. Subtropical vegetation, however, is found in the oasis Ein Gedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea, where bananas, dates, and grapes are cultivated. Many bird species are native to this region, among others the Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhipidurus), the Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis), the Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus), and the Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti).