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Lake Urmia
from space, 1984
Coordinates 37°42′N 45°19′E / 37.7°N 45.317°E / 37.7; 45.317Coordinates: 37°42′N 45°19′E / 37.7°N 45.317°E / 37.7; 45.317
Lake type salt (hypersaline) lake
Primary outflows evaporation
Basin countries Iran
Max. length 140 km (87 mi)
Max. width 55 km (34 mi)
Surface area 5,200 km2 (2,000 sq mi)
Max. depth 16 m (52 ft)
Islands 102 (see list)

Lake Urmia (Persian: دریاچه ارومیه Daryâcheh-ye Orumiyeh; Kurdish: زه ریاچه ی ورمێ; Azerbaijani: ارومیه گولو , ارومیه گولی, Armenian: Ուրմիա լիճ or Կապուտան լիճ; ancient name: Lake Matiene[1][2] is a salt lake in northwestern Iran near Turkey. The lake is between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea. It is the largest lake inside Middle East[3], and the third largest salt water lake on earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km² (2,000 mile²). At its maximum extent, it is about 140 km (87 miles) long, and 55 km (34 miles) wide. Its deepest point is approximately 16 m (52 ft) deep.

Contents

History

Salt crystals, on the shore

Early history

One of the early mentioning of Lake Urmia is from the Assyrian records from 9th century BCE. Here from the records of Shalmaneser III (reign 858-824 BCE) two names (place or tribe name) of Parsuwash and Matai are mentioned in the area of Lake Urmia. It is not completely clear what are the identities of these names and subsequent personal names and "kings". But Matai's are Iranian Median and linguistically the name "Parsuwash" matches perfectly with the Old Persian pārsa- an Achaemenid well-known ethno-linguistic designation.[4] Based on certain historical outline of how and when the Iranian people immigrated to the Iranian Plateau in several waves along different routes, Old Persian language- the ancestor of Modern Persian was originally spoken by the people of/from "Parsuwash" who settled in Iranian Plateau sometime in early 1st millennium and finally moved down into an area where Achaemenid history began ca. 600 BCE.[4]

The lake is named after the provincial capital city of Urmia, originally a Syriac name meaning city of water. It was called Lake Rezaiyeh (Persian: دریاچه رضائیه) in the early 1930s after Reza Shah Pahlavi, but the lake was renamed 'Urmia' in the late 1970s. Its ancient Persian name was Chichast (meaning, "glittering"--a reference to its glittering mineral particles suspended in the lake water and its shores). In the medieval times it came to be known as Lake Kabuda, or "azure," in Persian, (Gabod in Armenian).

Lake Matianus (Latin: Lacus Matianus) is an old name for Lake Urmia. It was the center of the Mannaean Kingdom, a potential Mannaean settlement represented by the ruin mound of Hasanlu was on the south side of Lake Matianus. Mannae was overrun by a people who were called Matiani or Matieni, an Iranic people variously identified as Scythian, Saka, Sarmatian, or Cimmerian. It is not clear whether the lake took its name from the people or the people from the lake, but the country came to be called Matiene or Matiane.

The lake is marked by more than a hundred small rocky islands, which are stopover points in the migrations of various kinds of wild bird life (including flamingos, pelicans, spoonbills, ibises, storks, shelducks, avocets, stilts, and gulls). The second largest island, Kaboudi, is the burial place of Hulagu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan and the sacker of Baghdad.

By virtue of its high levels of salinity, the lake does not sustain any fish species. Nonetheless, Lake Urmia is considered to be one of the largest natural habitats of Artemia, which serve as food source for the migratory birds such flamingos. Most of the area of the lake is considered a national park.

The lake is a major barrier between two of the most important cities in West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan provinces, Urmia and Tabriz. A project to build a highway across the lake was initiated in the 1970s but was abandoned after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, having finished a 15 km causeway with an unbridged gap. The project was revived in the early 2000s, and was completed in November 2008 with the opening of a 1.5 km bridge across the remaining gap[5]. However, the high saline environment is already heavily rusting the steel on the bridge despite anti-corrosion treatment.

shrinking of Lake Urmia from 1984 to 2003

Lake Urmia has been shrinking for a long time, with an annual evaporation rate of 0.6m to 1m (24 to 39 inches). The lake's salts are considered to have medical effects, especially as a cure for rheumatism. Lake Urmia is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Chemistry of Lake Urmia

The main cations in the lake water include Na+, K+, Ca2+, Li+ and Mg2+, while Cl, SO42–, HCO3 are the main anions [18]. The Na+ and Cl concentration is roughly 4 times the concentration of natural seawater. Sodium ions are at slightly higher concentration in the south compared to the north of the lake, which could result from the shallower depth in the south, and a higher net evaporation rate.

The lake is divided into north and south parts separated by a causeway in which a 1500m gap provides little exchange of water between the two parts. Due to drought and increased demands for agricultural water in the lake's basin, the salinity of the lake has risen to more than 300 g/L during recent years, and large areas of the lake bed have been desiccated. Therefore, management and conservation of this incomparable ecosystem should be considered to improve the current condition by fisheries research institutes.

Ecology of Lake Urmia

The Orumieh Lake, which lies in the northwestern Iran, is home to some 212 species of birds, 41 reptiles, 7 amphibians, and 27 species of mammals, including the Iranian yellow deer. Experts have warned that the construction of a 1.5 kilometer bridge over the lake, finished a few months ago, together with a series of ecological factors, will eventually lead to the drying up of Orumieh, turning it into a salt marsh which will directly affect the climate of the region.

The construction of a dam on part of the lake and the recent draught has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Orumieh receives.This in turn has increased the salinity of Orumiyeh's water, causing the lake to lose its significance as home to thousands of migratory birds, such as flamingoes.

Palaeoecology of Lake Urmia

A palynological investigation on long cores from Lake Urmia has revealed a nearly 200 kyr record of vegetation and lake level changes. The vegetation has changed from the Artemisia/grass steppes during the glacial/stadial periods to oak-juniper steppe-forests during the interglacial/interstadial periods. The lake seems to have had a complex hydrological history and its water levels have greatly fluctuated in the geological history. Very high lake levels have been suggested for some time intervals during the two last glacial periods as well as during both the Last Interglacial as well as the Holocene. Lowest lake levels have occurred during the last glacial periods.

Lake Urmia's islands

Satellite image of Lake Urmia, taken in November 2003, the bisctioning of the lake (due to construction of the bridge) is visible in the center of the lake.
The smallest island of Lake Urmia, Osman fist [6].

Lake Urmia has 102 islands. Their names are as follows: (For a Persian transcription of this list see this link).

Aram, Arash, Ardeshir, Arezu, Ashk, Ashk-Sar, Ashku, Atash, Azar, Azin, Bahram, Bard, Bardak, Bardin, Bastvar, Bon, Bon-Ashk, Borz, Borzin, Borzu, Chak-Tappeh, Cheshmeh-Kenar, Dey, Espir, Espirak, Espiro, Garivak, Giv, Golgun, Gordeh, Gorz, Iran-Nezhad, Jodarreh, Jovin, Jowzar, Kabudan (Qoyun daghi), Kafchehnok, Kakayi-e Bala, Kakayi-ye Miyaneh, Kakayi-e Pain, Kalsang, Kam, Kaman, Kameh, Kariveh, Karkas, Kaveh, Kazem-Dashi, Kenarak, Khersak, Kuchek-Tappeh, Magh, Mahdis, Mahvar, Markid, Mehr, Mehran, Mehrdad, Meshkin, Meydan, Miyaneh, Nadid, Nahan, Nahid, Nahoft, Nakhoda, Navi, Naviyan, Omid, Panah, Penhan, Pishva, Sahran, Samani, Sangan, Sangu, Sarijeh, Sepid, Shabdiz, Shahi (Eslami), Shahin, Shamshiran, Shur-Tappeh, Shush-Tappeh, Siyavash, Siyah-Sang, Siyah-Tappeh, Sorkh, Sorush, Tak, Takht, Takhtan, Tanjeh, Tanjak, Tashbal, Tir, Tus, Zagh, Zar-Kaman, Zarkanak, Zar-Tappeh, Zirabeh.

(List from: Farahang-e Joghrafiyayi-e shahrestânhâ-ye Keshvar (Shahrestân-e Orumiyeh), Tehran 1379 Hs).

Basin Rivers

A newly constructed bridge on the lake.
Lake urmia 02.jpg
Lake urmia 01.jpg
  • Aji Chay
  • Ghaie River
  • Alamlou River
  • Leylan River
  • Zarrineh River
  • Simineh River
  • Gadar River
  • Mahabad River
  • Barandouz River
  • Shahar River
  • Nazlou River
  • Rozeh River
  • Zola River

References

  1. ^ Henry, Roger (2003) Synchronized chronology: rethinking Middle East antiquity : a simple correction to Egyptian chronology resolves the major problems in biblical and Greek archaeology Algora Publishing, New York, p. 138, ISBN 0-87586-191-1
  2. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936 Volume 7 page 1037 citing Strabo and Ptolemy.
  3. ^ Britanica
  4. ^ a b cf. Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006), "Iran, vi(1). Earliest Evidence", Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. 13
  5. ^ http://www.payvand.com/news/08/nov/1165.html
  6. ^ http://www.salinesystems.org/content/2/1/9 Saline Systems; Urmia Salt Lake, Iran

External links

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Simple English

Coordinates: 37°42′0″N, 45°19′60″E

Satellite image from Lake Urmia

Lake Urmia
Country Iran
Province East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan

Coordinates37°42′0″N, 45°19′60″E
Area 5,200 km² (2,007.73 sq mi)

Lake Urmia
File:Lake urmia, salt
Salt crystals in Lake Urmia.

Lake Urmia (Persian: دریاچه ارومیه) is a salt lake in north west of Iran. It is in the provinces of East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan, and is located to the south-west of the close shaped Caspian Sea. It is the largest lake inside Iran, and the second biggest salt lake of the world. It is the largest lake in the Middle East. [1]

The location of Lake Urmia is at 37°42′0″N, 45°18′60″E. It has a surface area of about 5,200 km² (2,000 mile²). At its biggest extent, it is about 140 km (87 miles) long, and 55 km (34 miles) wide. Its deepest point is approximately 16 m (52 ft) deep. It receives water from thirteen rivers coming from the near mountains, and it has no output.[2]

Lake Urmia lies between West Azarbaijan and East Azarbaijan provinces. Tabriz is the biggest city to its east, and Urmia is the biggest city to its west. The shortest way between these cities is to go round the lake. In 1970s a project was started to create a bridge across the lake. This project was canceled when Islamic Revolution happened in 1979.[3] However, the project was started again in 2000s; it is planned to be finished by the end of 2007.

The lake has a very salty water. The concentration of salt is different in each season of the year; it may be 26-28% in the late Autumn.[4]

Lake Urmia is getting smaller and smaller each year. This is because the rivers which bring water to it have become smaller.

Contents

History

This lake was historically named Chaychast (Persian: چیچست). Later, it was named Urmia by the Assyrian people. The word Urmia consists of two parts: ur means city and mia means water. Urmia was the name given to the city of Urmia, which is located near this lake. The lake was then named Lake Urmia, after the name given to the city. In the early years of the 20th century, it was named Rezaiyeh Lake after the name of Reza Pahlavi, the king of Iran. After the Islamic Revolution, its name was changed back to Urmia Lake.

Life near Lake Urmia

Different creatures live inside or near this lake, including some species of shrimps, amphibians and birds like flamingos and pelicans.

Urmia Lake has shallow borders with lots of mud. Different creatures live inside the mud, including frogs, snails and worms. The mud is said to have good effects in treatment of some diseases of the joints.

Islands

Lake Urmia has 102 islands. Their names are as follows [1]:

Aram, Arash, Ardeshir, Arezu, Ashk, Ashk-Sar, Ashku, Atash, Azar, Azin, Bahram, Bard, Bardak, Bardin, Bastvar, Bon, Bon-Ashk, Borz, Borzin, Borzu, Chak-Tappeh, Cheshmeh-Kenar, Dey, Espir, Espirak, Espiro, Garivak, Giv, Golgun, Gordeh, Gorz, Iran-Nezhad, Jodarreh, Jovin, Jowzar, Kabudan, Kafchehnok, Kakayi-e Bala, Kakayi-ye Miyaneh, Kakayi-e Pain, Kalsang, Kam, Kaman, Kameh, Kariveh, Karkas, Kaveh, Kazem-Dashi, Kenarak, Khersak, Kuchek-Tappeh, Magh, Mahdis, Mahvar, Markid, Mehr, Mehran, Mehrdad, Meshkin, Meydan, Miyaneh, Nadid, Nahan, Nahid, Nahoft, Nakhoda, Navi, Naviyan, Omid, Panah, Penhan, Pishva, Sahran, Samani, Sangan, Sangu, Sarijeh, Sepid, Shabdiz, Shahi (Eslami), Shahin, Shamshiran, Shur-Tappeh, Shush-Tappeh, Siyavash, Siyah-Sang, Siyah-Tappeh, Sorkh, Sorush, Tak, Takht, Takhtan, Tanjeh, Tanjak, Tashbal, Tir, Tus, Zagh, Zar-Kaman, Zarkanak, Zar-Tappeh, Zirabeh.

Footnotes

^  For the Persian writing of these names please follow this link on Persian Wikipedia.

References

  1. Dictionary of the Middle Ages - Page 332 by Joseph Reese Strayer
  2. "Urmia Lake: A brief review". Saline Systems. http://www.salinesystems.org/content/3/1/5. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  3. "Urmia Lake profile". LakeNet. http://www.worldlakes.org/lakedetails.asp?lakeid=9820. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  4. "Lake Urmia". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9074483/Lake-Urmia. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 

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