The Dead Sea is a saline lake that is surrounded by the West Bank and Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. The Dead Sea has a surface area of about 234 sq miles. It is situated in the Jordan Valley, a unique feature that was created by the Dead Sea Rift. It is the world’s deepest hypersaline lake with a maximum depth of about 997 ft. Its main northern basin is 9 miles wide and 31 miles long. It is the lowest place on earth sitting 1,360 ft below sea level.
By definition, the Dead Sea is a lake and not a sea. A lake is a body of water that is surrounded by land. Rivers and streams feed and drain the lake resulting in most lakes being fresh water. They are larger and deeper than ponds. They are different than lagoons, which are fully landlocked, and seas, which are partially landlocked, in that they are not part of the ocean. Although the Dead Sea is a saline waterbody, it is fully enclosed by land and fed by the Jordan River and the Mujib River. Even though there are numerous small springs around and under this salt lake that forms quicksand pits and pool along its edge, the Dead Sea does not have an outlet stream. The Dead Sea’s aridity is caused by the rainshadow effects of the Judean Hills. The southern parts of the Dead Sea receive 2 inches of rain annually while the northern parts get 4 inches of rainfall.
The Dead Sea experiences dry air and sunny skies all year long. The salty lake has an average summer temperature of over 32°C and a mean annual rainfall of about 2 inches. The Dead Sea receives very weak ultraviolet radiation, especially the erythrogenic rays. The air in the region has very high oxygen content, due to the high atmospheric pressure. The sea’s temperature tends to be lower than the land temperature during summer and vice versa in winter. There 192 days per year when the region’s temperature exceeds 30°C.
The Dead Sea is ranked among the saltiest bodies of water on the planet with 33.7% salinity. The high nominal concentration of the Dead Sea makes it possible for anyone to float due to its natural buoyancy. One of the most unusual features of the salty lake is the fact that it discharges asphalt. The Dead Sea spits small blocks and pebbles of black substances. The composition of the Dead Sea’s water varies with temperature, depth, and season.
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