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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Mar 2018

Research article | 29 Mar 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Observations of positive sea surface temperature trends in the steadily shrinking Dead Sea

Pavel Kishcha1, Rachel T. Pinker2, Isaac Gertman3, Boris Starobinets1, and Pinhas Alpert1 Pavel Kishcha et al.
  • 1School of Geosciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, 69978, Israel
  • 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
  • 3Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, National Institute of Oceanography, Haifa, 31080, Israel

Abstract. The steadily shrinking Dead Sea followed by sea surface warming compensates surface water cooling due to increasing evaporation, and even causes the observed positive Dead Sea surface temperature trends. Using observations from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), positive trends were detected in both daytime (0.06°Cyear−1) and nighttime (0.04°Cyear−1) Dead Sea surface temperature (SST) over the period of 2000–2016. These positive SST trends were observed in the absence of positive trends in surface solar radiation measured by the Dead Sea buoy pyranometer. Neither changes in water mixing in the Dead Sea nor changes in evaporation could explain surface temperature trends. There is a positive feedback loop between the shrinking of the Dead Sea and positive SST trends, which leads to the accelerating decrease in Dead Sea water levels during the period under study. Note that there are two opposite processes based on available measurements: on the one hand, the measured accelerating rate of Dead Sea water levels suggests a long-term increase in Dead Sea evaporation which is expected to be accompanied by a long-term decrease in sea surface temperature. On the other hand, the positive feedback loop leads to the observed shrinking of the Dead Sea area followed by sea surface warming year on year. The total result of these two opposite processes is the statistically significant positive sea surface temperature trends in both daytime (0.06°Cyear−1) and nighttime (0.04°Cyear−1) during the period under investigation, observed by the MODIS instrument. Our results shed light on the continuing hazard to the Dead Sea and possible disappearance of this unique site.

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