Left: November 9, 1984. Right: November 28, 2011. The Dead Sea lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, bordering Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, too salty to harbor any life other than bacteria. Minerals from the sea, however, are extracted for various industrial purposes. Mineral evaporation ponds have replaced open water in the southern part of the sea, as can be seen in the 2011 image. In recent decades, the Dead Sea has shrunk as water has been diverted from the Jordan River, the sea’s main tributary. A plan has been announced to replenish the Dead Sea by building a canal from the Red Sea, providing fresh (desalinated) water to Jordan en route.
1984 image taken by the Thematic Mapper sensor onboard Landsat 5. 2011 image taken by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus sensor onboard Landsat 7. Source: USGS Landsat Missions Gallery, “The Dead Sea,” U.S. Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey.
Agriculture is the main industry in the Mexicali valley that straddles the vast Colorado River delta. The 1.5 million acre-feet of water that the USA delivers across the border into Mexico are used to water these fields and to supply the major cities Tijuana and Mexicali. Most of it is used to irrigate the vast agricultural area that covers the northern part of the delta.