World's largest soda lake in Turkey shrinks due to drought, extreme evaporation

The water level in Lake Van, the world's largest soda lake, has been dramatically decreasing due to reduced rainfall and increased evaporation. This decline has been adversely impacting all ports surrounding the lake, affecting the local economy.

Duvar English

Lake Van, the world's largest soda lake and the biggest lake in Turkey, has been continuing to shrink due to extreme drought in the recent years.

Decreasing rainfall and increasing evaporation have further reduced the water level in the lake located in the eastern provinces of Van and Bitlis. The receding water levels at many points of the lake have also affected the small fishing ports and harbors around the lake.

Fishing boats were stranded in the port on the coastline in Van's Tuşba district. Metropolitan Municipality teams started deepening work on the coastal area where the fishing ports were located in order to diminish the impact of the shrinking.

According to Demirören News Agency (DHA), Prof. Faruk Alaeddinoğlu, a faculty member of Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Geography Department, stated that there has been a very serious evaporation in the basin due to global warming and said, "This evaporation causes the lake to constantly retreat or lose area."

Prof. Faruk Alaeddinoğlu posing in front of the port situated on the campus of the Van Yüzüncü Yıl University.

"A water retreat is normal between the rainy and dry seasons. However, there has been a drought in our country for the last 20 years and in the lake basin for the last 10 years with the effect of climate change. The form, frequency, and amount of precipitation along with the evaporation; all these have changed. All of these have affected the lake detrimentally."

Prof. Alaeddinoğlu stated that with the shrinkage in the lake, the ports have also become unusable and that the improvement works carried out at the moment were only temporary solutions.

Municipality teams are carrying out a deepening project in the port to improve the situation.

"A deepening project is being carried out in the ports. Lake Van will continuously shrink due to the effects of drought and evaporation in the summer and this will continue in the next decades. With this loss of area, we will experience similar problems in all harbors around the lake, including small fishing ports," Alaeddinoğlu underscored.

As Turkey’s largest lake with a surface area of 3,713 square kilometers, the basin of Lake Van also inhabits 1.2 million people. Aside from being a drinking water source, it also provides resources for those who are making their living in agriculture or animal husbandry.