Iran’s Lake Urima appears to have had a biblical prophecy come to pass. ‘The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood.’
A once blue water lake, five times the size of Hong Kong, has been decimated by drought. The shrinking body of water is almost 90 percent smaller than it used to be. The high salt content has contributed to the blood-red tinge, along with the low water levels which reveal the microscopic bacteria and algae as well.
The once beautiful tourist stop is now plagued with an unsightly red hue and plan by the Iranian government to infuse $5 billion to save it, will no longer help. The lake is beyond repair.
A study by hydrology experts at the University of California in 2014 painted the picture of a dying natural resource, highlighting how desiccation, or drying, had reduced the 5,000 sq km (1,930 sq mile) lake by almost 90 percent.
Scientists working with NASA’s Earth Observatory have explained that as water levels drop during the hot summer months, microscopic algae and bacteria become more apparent, causing the unusual hue.
The color phenomenon has occurred a number of times before but is becoming increasingly common. Satellite monitoring of the site has revealed that the latest reddening occurred between April and July of this year.
Mohammad Tourian, of the University of Stuttgart, has been observing Urmia’s gradual disappearance. He indicated that alarming depletion of the lake at 1.03 cubic kilometers per year has allowed algae known as Dunaliella salina to take hold.
The “deathly tinge” is most likely due to the Dunaliella salina [algae].
“In the marine environment, Dunaliella salina appears green; however, in conditions of high salinity and light intensity, the microalgae turns red due to the production of carotenoids in the cells,” Tourian said.