Underwater drought is unprecedented in human history: here
Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 12:59 PM - Deep beneath the landlocked Dead Sea lies a stark clue about the future of Earth's rising temperatures.
Three-hundred metres below the water's surface, scientists surfaced a core containing 30 metres of crystalline salt in thick layers. The team from Columbia University's Earth Institute say the salt is proof of a drought unprecedented in human history. It's evidence that rainfall totals dropped to one fifth of modern levels roughly 120,000 years ago, and then again 10,000 years ago.
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The Middle East continues to dry and warm again with rising temperatures, and researchers say it could cause the scientific community to rethink how much worse conditions could become.
"All the observations show this region is one of those most affected by modern climate change, and it’s predicted to get dryer," said Yael Kiro, a geochemist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the study's lead author. "What we showed is that even under natural conditions, it can become much drier than predicted by any of our models."
The cycles of previous drought have been natural; however, it's important to note that one drought took place between the Ice Ages. During this drought, roughly 115,000 years ago, Earth's average atmospheric temperatures increased by 4 C compared to the average in the 20th century. This is roughly the same increase that scientists predict to see if humans continue to burn fossil fuels at the same rate, The Guardian reports.
Bordered by Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on land. With a shoreline roughly 400 metres below sea level, the bed of the basin dips down another 275 metres.
The study has been published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.