Challenges to estimate surface- and groundwater flow in arid regions: The Dead Sea catchment Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The overall aim of the this study, which was conducted within the framework of the multilateral IWRM project SUMAR, was to expand the scientific basement to quantify surface- and groundwater fluxes towards the hypersaline Dead Sea. The flux significance for the arid vicinity around the Dead Sea is decisive not only for a sustainable management in terms of water availability for future generations but also for the resilience of the unique ecosystems along its coast. Coping with different challenges interdisciplinary methods like (i) hydrogeochemical fingerprinting, (ii) satellite and airborne-based thermal remote sensing, (iii) direct measurement with gauging station in ephemeral wadis and a first multilateral gauging station at the river Jordan, (iv) hydro-bio-geochemical approach at submarine and shore springs along the Dead Sea and (v) hydro(geo)logical modelling contributed to the overall aim. As primary results, we deduce that the following: (i) Within the drainage basins of the Dead Sea, the total mean annual precipitation amounts to 300 mm a− 1 west and to 179 mm a− 1 east of the lake, respectively. (ii) The total mean annual runoff volumes from side wadis (except the Jordan River) entering the Dead Sea is approximately 58–66 × 106 m3 a− 1 (western wadis: 7–15 × 106 m3 a− 1; eastern wadis: 51 × 106 m3 a− 1). (iii) The modelled groundwater discharge from the upper Cretaceous aquifers in both flanks of the Dead Sea towards the lake amounts to 177 × 106 m3 a− 1. (iv) An unexpected abundance of life in submarine springs exists, which in turn explains microbial moderated geo-bio-chemical processes in the Dead Sea sediments, affecting the highly variable chemical composition of on- and offshore spring waters. The results of this work show a promising enhancement of describing and modelling the Dead Sea basin as a whole.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014