People, Environment

Urmia Lake Expected to Shrink

Urmia Lake Expected to ShrinkUrmia Lake Expected to Shrink

Urmia Lake's water level is expected to drop due to high summer temperatures, the deputy for planning at Urmia Lake Restoration Project said.

"Given that this summer is forecast to be around 1.8 degrees Celsius warmer than last year, a decline in water level as a result of evaporation is normal," Masoud Tajrishi also told ISNA.

The lake's area has more than tripled since 2013—when the ULRP was formed—going from 700 to 2,500 square kilometers.

"Urmia Lake is expected to shrink to 1,800 square kilometers by mid-September, which is normal given the summer heat," he added.

Tajrishi said some 60 cubic meters of water are in more than 60% of the lake.

"Because most of the lake is made up of shallow waters, the impact of water loss is more noticeable," he said.

"Back when the lake was 16 meters deep and had around 40 billion cubic meters of water, evaporation would go unnoticed. However, now it's easily visible."

At present, Urmia Lake contains 2.4 billion cubic meters of water. The ULRP in 2013 set out to stabilize the lake’s water level (Phase 1) before embarking on the more challenging task of restoring its water level to what it was more than a decade ago (Phase 2).

The first phase was completed last September and the second phase started, with the initial goal of increasing the water level by 40 centimeters a year.  The target is to restore the ecological level by 2023, though lack of funds could lead to the project missing the deadline.

Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake has been facing serious drought for years. Its desiccation is due to climate change, the long dry spell, unrestrained damming and excessive water use, especially in the agriculture sector.

One of the largest hyper-saline lakes in the world, Urmia Lake is marked by more than 100 small rocky islands that are stopover points on the migration route of various waterfowl, including flamingos, pelicans, spoonbills, ibises, storks, avocets, stilts and gulls.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints