Minimize Lake Urmia, Iran

Lake Urmia is an endorheic salt lake in Iranian Azerbaijan, Iran and near Iran's border with Turkey. The lake is between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan in Iran, and west of the southern portion of the Caspian Sea. At its full size, it was the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth-largest saltwater lake on Earth with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km2, 140 km long, 55 km wide, and 16 m deep. The lake has shrunk to 10% of its former size due to damming of the rivers that flow into it and pumping of groundwater from the area.

Lake Urmia, along with its once approximately 102 islands, are protected as a national park by the Iranian Department of Environment.

Currently, the lake is named after the provincial capital city of Urmia, originally an Assyrian name meaning Puddle of water. However, in the early 1930s, it was called Lake Rezaiyeh after Reza Shah Pahlavi. After the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s the lake was renamed Urmia. Its Old Persian name was Chichast (meaning, "glittering"–a reference to the glittering mineral particles suspended in the lake water and found along its shores). In medieval times it came to be known as Lake Kabuda (Kabodan), from the word for "azure" in Persian, or kapuyt in Armenian. Its Latin name was Lacus Matianus so it is referred to in some texts as Lake Matianus or Lake Matiene.

Locally, the lake is referred to in Persian as Daryache-ye Orumiye; in Azerbaijani as Urmu gölü, and in Kurdish as Wermy. The traditional Armenian name is Kaputan tsov, literally "blue sea".

More information is available on Wikipedia

Urmia Lake
Overlay image (Before and After)

We continue our tour around the world in 2017 and today look at Orumiyeh Lake or Lake Urmia. This shallow lake is located in north-western Iran, west of the Caspian Sea. It is about 145 km long, with an average breadth of 48 km, and occupies part of a level basin enclosed by mountains and lying at an altitude of more than 1,200 m. The lake is fed by radial streams of considerable size, but it has no outlet. The high salinity prevents fish from living in the lake. Most of the lake is included in a national park. The lake separates two of the most important cities in the region, Tabriz and Urmia, and a project began in the 1970s to build a bridge across the lake. This project was abandoned in 1979, but resumed in the early 2000s and the bridge was completed in 2008.

Due to the high evaporation rate (from 600 mm to 1,000 mm per year), Lake Urmia has been shrinking for many years. Its waters are considered to be curative, especially against rheumatism.

In these images acquired by the Landsat 5 and 8 satellites with a time window (before/after) of twenty-seven years, we aim to show how the dramatic reduction in size of the lake from 1989 until today. We can clearly see this change in the lake's size in the comparison and see the high resolution images for an overview of the full impact to the lake.

Another aim of these images is to promote the opportunity to download Landsat data through the ESA portals, where images captured every day are made available in near real time to the users and the scientific community.

Landsat full resolution data products are freely available for immediate download at:

Lake Urmia 2016Lake Urmia 1989

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View Landsat 5 TM high resolution image (JPG 1.4 MB)

View Landsat 8 OLI high resolution image (JPG 1 MB)

Technical Information of original image
Product: Geo Tiff format
Satellite/Sensor: Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 8 OLI
Resolution: 30 metres
Coverage: 180 x 180 KM
Acq. Date: 07 July 1989 and 14 November 2016
Band Combination used to create this image: 3, 2, 1 (R-G-B) and 4, 3, 2 (R-G-B) Visible colour layers
Map of area

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