hypersaline

“While walking on the Li River bank, I happened upon cormorant fisherman setting up for night fishing session. With the incredible mountain karsts as backdrop and the reflection in the water, I couldn’t take my eyes off the lanterns until they were long faded in the distance.”
-@jaypeeswing Li River, China
#passionpassport by passionpassport https://instagram.com/p/2gWUbTKWNF/

Great Salt Lake, Utah (NASA, International Space Station, 01/14/12) by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
The Great Salt Lake in Utah serves as a striking visual marker for the Expedition 30 crew members orbiting over the western states aboard the International Space Station. A sharp line across the lake’s center is caused by the restriction in water flow from the railroad causeway. The eye-catching colors of the lake stem from the fact that Great Salt Lake is hypersaline, typically 3-5 times saltier than the ocean.

Image credit: NASA

Laysan Island

Population of 0; part of USA; 1.59 square miles.

Interesting fact: the island has one of only 5 natural lakes in Hawaii, however, this one is hypersaline, upon which freshwater will float.

Laysan Monk Seal 0139 (by G Allen Smith)

The “Dying” Sea?

The Dead Sea is a hypersaline lake with a salinity level of 33.7% that borders Jordan, Israel and the West Bank and covers an area of ~600 km2 (230 sq mi). Hypersaline means that it has an unusually high concentration of salts (sodium chloride and others) and has a higher salinity than the ocean (3.5% salinity). While the Dead Sea is not the saltiest lake in the world - that honour belongs to the Don Juan Pond in Antarctica - it is the deepest, with a maximum depth of 307 m (997 ft) below the surface. The lake is also Earth’s lowest point on land with the lake’s surface at an elevation of 429 m (1,407 ft) below sea level.

The name “Dead Sea” refers to the fact that most life forms (with the exception of some bacteria and microscopic algae) cannot survive in its waters. However, the lake has drawn interest from medical researchers who are using the unique chemical and physical properties of its mud and water to treat number of health conditions including psoriasis (a chronic skin condition) and osteoarthritis of the knees.

Sadly, the Dead Sea may be dying. Due to water diversion from the Jordan River which normally flows in from the north (visible as a thin line at the top of the image), the level of the lake (as well as the undelying groundwater) has dropped significantly. The image I’ve included shows the drop in water level since 1972. At the southern end of the lake you can see the mineral evaporation ponds from which carnalite (potassium magnesium chloride) is harvested.

As a result, sinkholes (up to 1 per day) have begun forming in the area as briny groundwater is flushed out by freshwater. The freshwater then dissolves away the rock, forming caves. that grow larger and collapse, causing sinkholes and an elaborate underground drainage system. This link (http://slate.me/1Ao1iaN) describes the causes and consequences of the Dead Sea decline.

- YK

Past articles:
Extreme environments - http://on.fb.me/1vEdUEm

Image credit: NASA image by Robert Simmon, using Landsat data from the United States Geological Survey. Caption by Aries Keck and Mike Carlowicz. (http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=77592). I recommend checking out this link as it describes the colouration of the image and a bit about the cultural significance of the Dead Sea.
Further reading:
More on the Dead Sea - http://bit.ly/1nuYNwh
The chemistry and biology of the Dead Sea - http://bit.ly/1D4DevS
More on the Lisan karst system - http://bit.ly/1Bqjzmk(requires login via your local library)

Lake Beeac on Flickr.

On the way back from our trip on the Great Ocean Road, we travelled north through Colac and many towns I haven’t visited before. One town which you can miss with the blink of an eye is Beeac. Lake Beeac is its most amazing feature; a hypersaline lake visited by over 20 species of waterbirds. Take a look at that salt-crusted lake… the reflected light is similar to what you would experience on a sunny day at the snow. Pow!

(click title above to watch video and read about the logistics going into filming it)

I’d heard about these but never could find a video of one… Leave it to BBC Nature’s cameramen and specialists to finally record a time-lapse video of a brinicle (seawater icicle) forming and wreaking havoc on the poor unsuspecting sea stars and sea urchins below.  The brinicle forms as hypersaline (super-salty) water sinks, and the water that is slightly less salty freezes at the hypersaline/slightly-less-hypersaline boundary.  Worth the 1.5 minute watch - one of the best time-lapse videos I’ve seen, bar none. 

Image below is of the filming setup for the time-lapse video, from BBC Nature (http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/56860000/jpg/_56860983_hughmillertimelapsebrinacle-4.jpg):