Dustiest Places on Earth–Dead and Dying Seas
Climate change and the diversion of rivers for use by cities and agriculture in arid lands produces dead and dying seas. Winds blowing over the former seabeds have produced the dustiest places on earth.
The Dustiest Place on Earth: the Bodélé Depression in the Sahel
The dustiest place on earth is the Bodélé Depression in the Sahel. It is the remains of a much larger sea formed when the Sahel and the Sahara were much wetter thousands of years ago. Read Dustiest Place on Earth, a 904-KB pdf file, about the Bodélé Depression in the Sahel, from Nature.
The dustiest place in North America is the Owens Valley. It is the single largest source of PM-10 dust in the United States. The story begins with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California obtaining water rights to almost all water in the Owens Valley during the early 20th century to ensure an adequate water supply for the fast growing Los Angeles. This led to the dessication of Owens Lake.
Dust from the lake has a high salt content, and it includes important concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, nickel, and chromium. For more information read Owens (Dry) Lake, California: A Human-Induced Dust Problem by Marith C. Reheis of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Recently the district has been required to allow enough water to flow into Owens Lake to reduce the amount of particulates picked up by winds in the area. See A Century Later, Los Angeles Atones for Water Sins in the New York Times. Photos of the partly restore lake bed are published by Metropolis Magazine.
Dying Seas—The Aral Sea
The demand for water for irrigating crops has led to large-scale diversion of water from rivers. In central Asia, the Syr Darya and Aru Darya feed the Aral Sea. The diversion led to perhaps the most notorious ecological catastrophe of human making. The Aral Sea was once the 4th largest lake in the world.
to Grips With the Aral Sea's Grim Legacy, a Science article by Stone
There's no undoing this sea's demise, but scientists are hoping to soften
Dying Seas—The Salton Sea
Sea: Battle Over a Dying Sea, a Science article by Kaiser
Revised on: 5 January, 2009