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Climate Change Affecting Mar Chiquita, Argentina

30.4S 62.7W

February 20th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes, Salt Flats

Argentina – January 26th, 2013

Salt lakes are formed when the water’s only exit is evaporation. Over time, the saline compounds left behind turn the water brackish. Apart from supporting local fisheries, salt lakes provide an environmental service by regulating the local climate. But they are very sensitive to changes in the rivers that feed them.

Among the largest salt lakes in the world is Mar Chiquita in Argentina (upper left corner). Thanks to climate change, the lake has been profoundly altered, undergoing several changes in the last few decades. Between 1970 and 2000, rainfall increased by 30 percent, resulting in a 30 foot increase in lake level. This caused the salinity to fall from 23 percent to less than 3 percent.

Due to a severe drought in Argentina, this has been reversed in recent years, with a marked reduction in the area of Mar Chiquita. These facts are certainly influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation and exacerbated by the uncontrolled extraction of water from Mar Chiquita’s main tributary, the Dulce River. According to studies, the lake level dropped a foot and salinity increased 10 grams per liter during 2008. Reducing the level of Mar Chiquita leaves salt beaches exposed, which as in the case with the Aral Sea, became dust clouds in strong winds (click here for more information).

Mar Chiquita and Salinas Grandes Salt Flats, Argentina

38.7S 62.9W

April 20th, 2012 Category: Lakes, Salt Flats

Argentina - April 15th, 2012

Visible near the right edge of this image of the Argentine province of Córdoba is the Mar Chiquita, a large salt lake. It is fed primarily by the saline waters of the Dulce River, coming from Santiago del Estero in the north after being joined by the Saladillo River.

The lands around the lower course of the Dulce and Mar Chiquita are wetlands, populated by a large biodiversity (especially aquatic birds). From the southwest the lake receives the flow of the Primero/Suquía and the Segundo/Xanaes rivers, as well as several streams; these inflows vary greatly from dry to rainy seasons.

Salt flats can be seen by the lake’s northern shores. Also visible in the upper left quadrant are the salt flats of the Salinas Grandes, a salt desert in the Córdoba and Santiago del Estero provinces that covers an area of 3,200 mi² (8,290 km²).

Mar Chiquita and Adjacent Wetlands, Argentina

30.6S 62.5W

December 30th, 2010 Category: Lakes, Rivers

Argentina - December 25th, 2010

The large, green lake visible here is known as Mar Chiquita or Mar de Ansenuza. It occupies the southern part of a depression that measures about 80 km (north–south) by 45 km (east–west) in the northeast of the province of Córdoba, in central Argentina.

It is fed primarily by the saline waters of the Dulce River, coming from Santiago del Estero in the north after being joined by the Saladillo River. The lands around the lower course of the Dulce and Mar Chiquita are wetlands, populated by a large biodiversity (especially aquatic birds).

From the southwest the lake receives the flow of the Primero/Suquía and the Segundo/Xanaes rivers, as well as several streams; these inflows vary greatly from dry to rainy seasons.

Upon opening the full image, another river can be seen to the east of the lake: the Paraná River. It flows vertically across the image from north to south.

Green Landscape Around Mar Chiquita in Córdoba, Argentina – April 6th, 2010

30.7S 62.8W

April 6th, 2010 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers

Argentina - March 5th, 2010

Argentina - March 5th, 2010

Central Argentina’s Mar Chiquita appears surrounded by green vegetation in this image taken during the southern hemisphere summer. In previous images (click here), this endorheic salt lake appeared surrounded by a drier landscape.

Mar Chiquita, also known as Mar de Ansenuza, is located in the southern part of a large depression in the northeast of the province of Córdoba.  It is the largest of Argentina’s naturally occurring saline lakes.

Mar Chiquita is fed primarily by the saline waters of the Dulce River, coming from Santiago del Estero in the north after being joined by the Saladillo River. The lands around the lower course of the Dulce and Mar Chiquita are wetlands.

Mar Chiquita: Central Argentina’s “Little Sea”

September 29th, 2009 Category: Lakes

Argentina - July 28th, 2009

Argentina - July 28th, 2009

The blue and green body of water here, in the northeast of the Argentine province of Córdoba, is the Mar Chiquita (in Spanish literally “Little Sea”) or Mar de Ansenuza. It is an endorheic salt lake and the largest of the naturally occurring saline lakes of Argentina.

The lake occupies the southern part of a depression that measures about 80 km (north–south) by 45 km (east–west). Its surface area varies considerably given its shallow depth (about 10 m), between averages of 2,000 and 4,500 km² (corresponding to maximum elevations of between 66 and 69 m above mean sea level).

Mar Chiquita is slowly diminishing in volume due to increased evaporation and elevation of its bottom, and is ultimately bound to turn into a playa (a salt flat). Here, salt flats can be seen along its northern shores.

Mar Chiquita is fed primarily by the saline waters of the Dulce River, coming from Santiago del Estero in the north after being joined by the Saladillo River. The lands around the lower course of the Dulce and Mar Chiquita are wetlands, populated by a large biodiversity (especially aquatic birds).

From the southwest the lake receives (irregularly) the flow of the Primero/Suquía and the Segundo/Xanaes rivers, as well as several streams.

The salinity of Mar Chiquita is quite variable, with measured extremes ranging from 250 g/l in times of low water levels to around 40 g/l in very humid years.

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