Salt Lake is shrinking

24 Aug 2021
Salt Lake is shrinking

The second biggest lake of Turkey, Salt Lake is a heaven for flamingos. The lake is shrinking day by day due to drought. Expressing that the shrink in Salt Lake is about one kilometre, Dr. Hatice Ünal Ercan, who is an academic member of the department of Chemical Technology in Konya Technical University, also said that “we can see that the salt layer is relatively lighter due to the drought and because of the organic materials in interior parts the pink colour has increased”.
Salt Lake, which is within the borders of Aksaray, Ankara and Konya, is an endorheic lake because there is no water outlet. Most of the salt need of the country comes from this lake. Also, as it is in the migratory road of different kinds of birds, mostly flamingos, you can see them stop over here during spring and summer. Moreover, thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit the lake in summer. But the water level in the lake has shrunk due the drought.
In an area of the Lake near the Aksaray-Ankara highway, the algae in the water produce red beta-carotene in July and August during which the temperatures and salinity increase. By this way they become able to preserve themselves from the harmful sunray. In the same period, halo-bacteria increase in number and the colour of the lake becomes pink or red. When the temperatures decrease and the rainy season starts the lake relapses. However, this year due to the drought the lake has started to turn into pink in the first days of June.   
Dr. Hatice Ünal Ercan, who has been conducting scientific investigations on the lake, expressed that due to the drought in the lake, the salt layer has decreased a lot and the colour pink is also seen more in inner parts because of the organic materials. She also stated that:
* This colour attracts the attention of passers and tourists. People park their cars or go into from the main entrance to see it. But this human factor pollutes the environment more. We have been working on the salt structure and minerals around the lake with a private company.
* The shrink in the Salt Lake can be seen from the coast. About 50 years ago, the lake was near the highway. But today we can see that it is 1 kilometre away the road. Salt Lake has been shrinking and becoming smaller for two years because of the drought.
* This is not only because of people. The surrounding agricultural irrigation and over consuming of water are also other reasons. The area is an important migratory route for lots of birds. When there is no water, the birds change their routes to find different places with enough water.
Umut Barış Ülgen, the geological engineer from the group researching in the lake, stated that “This is one of the heavenly points of Turkey. Salt Lake is important not only for the salt economy but also for tourism. We have been researching superficially for three days. We will prepare and present international projects together with TUBITAK for a more detailed project with the data we get from here. While we were taking samples from Salt Lake during our studies, we would normally cut 5-6 cm of salt, but we have encountered just half a centimetre of salt due to drought. Now, there is much less salt than there should be. There is very little water left because of the drought. We can even see this. In addition, when you visit the surrounding lands, there is no product in the field. This drought has begun to seriously affect the lake and its surroundings. We should know the value of the water more.”

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