In Brief

Largest Lake in Iran Is Disappearing

Lake Oroumieh in Iran
The Landsat 5 satellite, jointly operated by NASA and the U.S. Geological Society, snapped this photo of Lake Oroumieh in northwestern Iran on Aug. 13, 2011. (Image credit: NASA/USGS/Earth Observatory)

Lake Oroumieh, the largest lake in Iran and one of the largest saltwater lakes on the planet, has shrunk more than 80 percent in the past decade, but the nation's president, Hassan Rouhani, is now making it a priority to save the lake from drying up.

Rouhani is tackling some of the long-standing environmental problems that are causing the lake, which has been a popular spot for tourists and a key refuge for migrating wildlife, to disappear, reported the Associated Press. Intensive irrigation, the damming of rivers that flow into Lake Oroumieh, and the effects of climate change, have all contributed to the problem, and experts caution that, if left unaddressed, the lake could run dry within two years, according to the AP.

Rouhani's cabinet appointed a rescue team to oversee the efforts, and proposals for how to save the lake in northwestern Iran have been solicited. The team is expected to settle on a final strategy by May, according to the AP.

"Rouhani stands by his campaign to promise to revive the lake," Isa Kalantari, who was appointed by the president to lead the rescue team, said at a conference this week, according to the AP. "Don't blame nature and drought. Human beings, not climate change, are responsible for this situation. We dried up the lake because of our excessive demands and wrong methods. Now, we have to revive it ourselves. Five million people have to leave this region if the lake dies."

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Denise Chow
Live Science Contributor

Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.