DESERVE - The Virtual Institute DEad SEa Research VEnue

DeservlogoThe Dead Sea region faces big water-related challenges. Among them are sea level decline, desertification, flash floods, ascending brines polluting freshwater, sinkhole development, and the repeated occurrence of earthquakes. Climate change and extensive exploitation of groundwater and surface water even aggravate the situation. These challenges can be only mastered in an interdisciplinary research effort involving all riparian countries.

DESERVE is designed as a cross-disciplinary and cooperative international project of the Helmholtz Centers KIT, GFZ, and UFZ with well-established partners of the riparian countries. 

DESERVE is offering the unique opportunity to integrate the scientific results already achieved or presently elaborated in the Dead Sea region into a joint scientific approach based on earth, water, and environmental sciences. 

DESERVE is aimed at studying coupled atmospheric, hydrological, and lithospheric processes, such as sinkholes, flash floods, and earthquakes. This interdisciplinary research approach will contribute to a sound scientific understanding of the ongoing processes. Furthermore, it enables the development of prediction models, remediation strategies, and risk assessments with respect to environmental risk, water availability, and climate change. 

DESERVE is funded by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


Fig. 1: Evaporation measurements over the Dead Sea water body (© U. Corsmeier, IMK-TRO).

Fig. 2: Meteorological station in Jordan (© F. Lott, IMK-TRO).

Fig. 3: KITcube at Masada (© A. Wieser, IMK-TRO).

Within DESERVE, the research of IMK-TRO focuses on the operation of a long-term meteorological monitoring network in combination with intensive special observation periods, and numerical modelling to:

  • estimate Dead Sea evaporation which among others contributes to the Dead Sea water budget, impacts precipitation, and governs the intensity of Dead Sea haze;
  • quantify and characterize atmospheric aerosols, as well as regional and local wind systems applying LIDAR and radar systems;
  • simulate regional weather with COSMO and COSMO-ART to improve the process representation of evaporation, haze, and precipitation formation;
  • investigate the impact of global warming and regional land use change on the water budget components with high resolution regional climate simulations (COSMO-CLM);
  • perform seismic measurements to study if and to what extent the movement of the ground can be traced back to meteorological parameters, and thus to wind systems and atmospheric pressure variations.

Long-term meteorological monitoring

Since 2006, IMK-TRO operates two permanent meteorological stations, P88 and Masada, at the western Dead Sea coast. In March 2014, the stations were complemented by the first permanent meteorological station of IMK-TRO in Jordan. The build-up of a permanent meteorological station in Palestine is currently in preparation. Together, a network of permanent meteorological stations covering the Dead Sea region evolves. The instruments provide meteorological measurements of wind speed and direction, temperature, air pressure, air humidity, soil moisture and soil temperature, short and long wave radiation, and precipitation. View the measurements here.

Special observation periods

Following intensive preparations, the special observation period „Haze and evaporation at the Dead Sea 2014“ (HEADS 2014) started in early 2014. At three characteristic sites on the western coast of the Dead Sea (within vegetation, over bare soil, and directly at the shoreline), energy balance stations were installed for a one-year period. With high resolution instruments, meteorological measurements are performed and according to boundary layer theory, the latent heat flux (evaporation) and the sensible heat flux can be calculated. Due to predominant local wind systems, it is possible to estimate these variables within vegetation, over bare soil but also for the water body. View the measurements here

The highlight of HEADS 2014 is the operation of KITcube, an overall monitoring system for probing the atmosphere, at Masada (Israel) during two four-week periods in August 2014 (dry season) and November/December 2014 (wet season). With the KITcube, four-dimensional measurements of flow and stability are performed to investigate the formation and the life cycle of haze within the Dead Sea valley. To cover the entire Dead Sea valley, the KITcube observations are complemented by measurements at the eastern coast of the Dead Sea in Jordan. In addition, a temporary seismic array is deployed next to the meteorological station in Jordan. It consists of 15 high frequency and broad band seismic stations. Aiming to identify winds in seismic records and verify it with meteorological measurements, the array is situated at the edge of the Dead Sea valley, in the scope of circulation wind systems.