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Revival Of Iran’s Lake Urmia

Revival Of Iran’s Lake Urmia


  • GS 3 || Environment || Climate Change || Tackling Climate Change

Why in news?

  • Lake Urmia of Iran that faced blow of global warming and desiccated in the decades of 1990s and 2000s, is now reviving. The report was published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

About the Lake Urmia

  • Lake Urmia is a salt lake in the mountains of northwest Iran.
  • Was once the second largest hyper saline lake in the world
  • It has 102 islands and it maximum depth is 16m (52 ft).
  • At its greatest extent, it was the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth-largest saltwater lake on Earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km2 .
  • Lake Urmia is fed by 13 rivers
  • UN has entitled the lake under the Convention on Wetlands (signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971).

Gradual Shrinking (in Map)


Shrinking and Other Dangers

  • It is one of the worst ecological disasters of recent decades, stated by UN.
  • The lake has been desiccating since 1995; UNEP said it happened
  • because of prolonged droughts, over-farming and dams.
  • The annual flow of water into the lake, dropped by 48% over the study period.60% of this decline was caused by climate changes, such as change in precipitation and temperature, and that the remaining 40% of the decline could be attributed to water resources development, such as diverting water for irrigation that would otherwise flow into the lake.
  • The lake’s surface was 2,366 square kilometrestill August 2011 but it lost staggering 700 km2 in 2013.
  • It has threatened the habitat of shrimp, flamingos, deers and wild sheep and caused salt storms that pollute nearby cities and farms.
  • Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall have been a major factor in the lake’s decline, experts say.
  • So, too, was the construction of a causeway in 2008 to shorten driving times between Urmia and the nearby city of Tabriz that cut the lake in two.
  • But people were also a major part of the problem due to a rapid rise in the population and farming around the lake, which provides a livelihood to some six million people 

Steps Taken

  • In 2013, a joint venture of the Japanese government and Iran under the flagship of UN Development Program vowed to revive the river.
  • The rejuvenation effort therefore focused on redirecting rivers to irrigate farmland, thus avoiding use of water from the lake, and the promotion of more sustainable farming methods.
  • “Measures such as using natural instead of chemical fertilisers, or levelling the land to avoid run-off, have shown major improvements for local farmer.
  • One group of 20 women set up a collective to raise awareness among lakeside communities about water waste, and encourage the production of handicrafts to boost sustainable employment. They are also encouraging to plant less water needing plants like saffron and olvies.

Results on Ground

  • Some positive results have been turned up as the lake’s surface area reached 2,300 km2 last year. Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani said it would take “decades” to return to the 5,000 km2 it once covered, but at least “now the trend has stopped”.
  • There has also been a noticeable reduction in the salt and dust pollution whipped up from the desiccated lake floor during storms.

Location of Lake Urmia

  • In the North-West part of Iran, near the metropolitan city of Tabriz