Infographic: Lake Urmia Drained By Water Diversions

The largest lake in Iran is shrinking rapidly, threatening tourism and health.

The surface area of Lake Urmia — a vast, shallow, saltwater lake in northwestern Iran — has declined 88 percent since the 1970s due to water diversions siphoning supplies away from the freshwater rivers that supply the lake, according to a study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research in March. Tourism in the region has fallen with the water levels, and serious health risks are on the rise as dust storms pick up salts from the exposed lake bottom and sweep them across towns and farm fields.

In the infographic below, the satellite images show the change in lake area between 1975 and 2015, while the graphs track changes in the lake’s water levels.

Infographic Graphic Map Lake Urmia Iran Lakes In Jeopardy shrinking lake satellite image water level surface area Kaye LaFond Circle of Blue

Graphic © Kaye LaFond / Circle of Blue
Lake Urmia, a large lake in Iran, is shrinking because too much water is being pulled from the rivers that feed it. Click image to enlarge.

Codi Yeager-Kozacek contributed reporting to this graphic, which is the first in a five-week series documenting threats to the world’s largest lakes. Click here to read Circle of Blue’s report about Lake Urmia and other endangered lakes and here to view an interactive map of threats to the 20 largest lakes in the world.

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