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Delayed subsidence of the Dead Sea shore due to hydro-meteorological changes

Vey, Sibylle; Al-Halbouni, Djamil; Haghighi, Mahmud Haghshenas; Alshawaf, F.; Vüllers, Jutta; Güntner, A.; Dick, G.; Ramatschi, M.; Teatini, Pietro; Wickert, J.; Weber, Michael

Many studies show the sensitivity of our environment to manmade changes, especially the anthropogenic impact on atmospheric and hydrological processes. The effect on Solid Earth processes such as subsidence is less straightforward. Subsidence is usually slow and relates to the interplay of complex hydro-mechanical processes, thus making relations to atmospheric changes difficult to observe. In the Dead Sea (DS) region, however, climatic forcing is strong and over-use of fresh water is massive. An observation period of 3 years was thus sufficient to link the high evaporation (97 cm/year) and the subsequent drop of the Dead Sea lake level (− 110 cm/year), with high subsidence rates of the Earth’s surface (− 15 cm/year). Applying innovative Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) techniques, we are able to resolve this subsidence of the “Solid Earth” even on a monthly basis and show that it behaves synchronous to atmospheric and hydrological changes with a time lag of two months. We show that the amplitude and fluctuation period of ground deformation is related to poro-elastic hydro-mechanical soil response to lake level changes. This provides, to our knowledge, a first direct link between shore subsidence, lake-level drop and evaporation.
Published in: Scientific Reports, 10.1038/s41598-021-91949-y, Springer Nature