Africa

Saline lakes on the African continent are located in four major areas which include the northern half of the continent (Saharan and semiarid region bordering the Mediterranean), East Africa, the Western Rift Valley and South Africa. Perhaps the best known African lakes are the so-called soda lakes of East Africa. These sodium bicarbonate dominated lakes occur in a narrow strip extending from the Red Sea south through Ethiopia and Kenya into Central Tanzania and include small deep permanent lakes as well as shallow salt pans. Salinities here range from 3000 to 300 000 mg T1. A number of lakes (e.g., Lakes Nakuru and Magadi) are major staging and feeding areas for pink flamingoes.

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Great salt

Salton Pyramid sea

Big quill

Mono Walker

10 J3

Figure 5 Salinity, volume and area of some large North American saline lakes. Data from: Williams, WD (1996) The largest, highest and lowest lakes of the world: Saline lakes. Verhandlungen Internationale Vereinigung Limnologie 26: 61-79.

Great salt

Salton Pyramid sea

Big quill

Mono Walker

10 J3

50 0

CO CO

Figure 5 Salinity, volume and area of some large North American saline lakes. Data from: Williams, WD (1996) The largest, highest and lowest lakes of the world: Saline lakes. Verhandlungen Internationale Vereinigung Limnologie 26: 61-79.

Much less well known are coastal saline lakes along the coast of South Africa, e.g., Swartvlei in Cape Province. These lakes are formed when the action of long shore currents creates sand bars preventing drainage to the sea. They are re-opened when the water level in a lake flows over the bar and erodes it. However, in some cases these are artificially destroyed when levels get too high and start to flood houses or businesses built close to the lake shore. For part of a year the upper water column may become fresh water as riverine inflows spread over the denser saline waters until the breakdown of the sand bar allows the water to flow into the ocean. The bottom part of the water column remains saline throughout the year except under exceptional hydrological and climatic circumstances. Similar coastal saline lakes also occur on the coasts of Japan, Australia, and Korea.

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