Ibrahim M. Oroud 2011: Evaporation estimates from the Dead Sea and their implications on its water balance

Reference: Theoretical and Applied Climatology


The Dead Sea (DS) is a terminal hypersaline water body situated in the deepest part of the Jordan Valley. There is a growing interest in linking the DS to the open seas due to severe water shortages in the area and the serious geological and environmental hazards to its vicinity caused by the rapid level drop of the DS. A key issue in linking the DS with the open seas would be an accurate determination of evaporation rates. There exist large uncertainties of evaporation estimates from the DS due to the complex feedback mechanisms between meteorological forcings and thermophysical properties of hypersaline solutions. Numerous methods have been used to estimate current and historical (pre-1960) evaporation rates, with estimates differing by ∼100%. Evaporation from the DS is usually deduced indirectly using energy, water balance, or pan methods with uncertainty in many parameters. Accumulated errors resulting from these uncertainties are usually pooled into the estimates of evaporation rates. In this paper, a physically based method with minimum empirical parameters is used to evaluate historical and current evaporation estimates from the DS. The more likely figures for historical and current evaporation rates from the DS were 1,5001,600 and 1,2001,250 mm per annum, respectively. Results obtained are congruent with field observations and with more elaborate procedures.

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