Spontaneous Lake in the Desert

Spontaneous Lake in the Desert                                                Lacus sponte

Deep within the United Arab Emirates, a lake has spontaneously appeared in the desert.  Dave Clark, U.S. hydrologist working in UAE, says that the lake began to fill a couple of years ago.  The lake is a result of desalinated water pulled from the Persian Gulf, which was pumped 150 miles inland to the town of Al Ain, where it was used for cooking, drinking and ultimately flushed it away.  From there it traveled to a waste treatment plant, where it was pumped back to town for use in gardens and parks and seeps back into the ground.  And now, a short distance from Al Ain, the water has re-emerged from the ground to make a lake in the desert.

But this isn’t just a mud puddle in the ground – this lake is clean, and starting to fill with life. It has become an ecosystem of its own, completely separate from the desert ecosystem around it.  Fish are starting to fill the lake, herons are stopping at the lake to breed.  But what about the original desert ecosystem?  Already fragile, the emergence of the lake near Al Ain and others like it force us to confront changes in the landscape.  Do we try to return the lake to its original desert state?  Or do we allow the desert to change as it will?

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