|The Dead Sea hydrography from 1992 to 2000|In: Journal of Marine Systems. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Amsterdam. ISSN 0924-7963, more
Anthropogenic factors; Hydrography; Thermohaline circulation; Vertical stability; Water column; Israel, Dead Sea; Marine
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The modern hydrological regime of the Dead Sea is strongly affected by anthropogenic activity. The natural fresh water budget has changed mainly due to the drastic reduction of runoff. Since 1977, the surface level of the Dead Sea has been lowered by an average rate of about 60 cm/year and for the period from 1998 to 2000, the lowering rate has reached about 100 cm/year. As a result of the runoff reduction, the upper layer salinity of the Dead Sea has increased and the gravitational stability of the water body was diminished. Eventually, during the winter of 1978-1979, the lake waters overturned, bringing to an end the long-term stable meromictic1 hydrological regime. The lake entered a new phase in which its hydrological regime switches between holomictic and meromictic regimes, depending on the size of the runoff into the lake (i.e. the amount of precipitation in the lake's watershed). The first holomictic period, 1979-1980, lasted for 2 months only. It was succeeded by a 4-year meromictic period (1980-1983). The second holomictic period lasted for 9 years (1983-1991). The rainy winter of 1991-1992 resulted in an almost 2-m sea level rise. The upper layer with a relatively low salinity was restored and a new meromictic period persisted for 4 years, until winter 1995-1996. During the last meromictic period, the hydrological regime of the Dead Sea was characterized by following long-term trends: the depth of the summer thermocline increased from 12-15 to 25-30 m; the quasi-salinity of the upper layer, initially of about 164 kg/m3, increased rapidly at a rate of about 16-18 kg/m3/year; the quasi-salinity of the deep water, initially of about 235 kg/m3, decreased slowly at a rate of about 0.08-0.10 kg/m3/year (for the sake of comparison, a quasi salinity of 235 kg/m3 is the equivalent of 280 pm "usual" salinity); and the winter minimal temperature of the upper layer, initially of about 16 °C, increased rapidly at a rate of about 2 °C/year. In November 1995, the latest meromictic period of the Dead Sea came to an end. During the present holomictic period, 1996-2000, the hydrological regime of the Dead Sea is also characterized by long-term trends: the quasi-salinity of the entire Dead Sea increased at a rate of about 0.5 kg/m3/year, with practically no decrease during the winters; the temperature of the deep water mass increased with a rate of about 0.25 °C/year; and the period of vertical convection of the entire water column, initially about 3 months, increased at a rate of about 1 week/year. Moreover, we observed that the temperature and salinity of the bottom layer in the deepest part of the Dead Sea raised by about 0.5-0.6 °C and 0.15-0.25 kg/m3 during each holomictic summer.