Lake Van in Eastern Turkey Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Lake Van, the largest body of water in Turkey and the second largest in the Middle East.
The lake is located in eastern Anatolia near the border of Iran, and covers an area of 1,434 square miles.
With a salt concentration of approximately 23 grams per liter and a pH of 10, Lake Van is the world’s largest soda lake. Lake Van (Turkish: Van Gölü; Armenian: Վանա լիճ, Vana lič̣; Kurdish: Gola Wanê), the largest lake in the Eastern Anatolia Region, Turkey, and the Armenian Highlands, lies in the far east of Turkey in the provinces of Van and Bitlis. It is a saline soda lake, receiving water from many small streams that descend from the surrounding mountains. It is one of the world’s few endorheic lakes (a lake having no outlet) of greater size than 3,000 square kilometres and has 38% of the country’s surface water (including rivers). A volcanic eruption blocked its original outlet in prehistoric times. It sits at 1,640 m (5,380 ft) which makes for several weeks each year usually below zero degrees celsius. High salinity mainly prevents it from freezing at such times. Specifically, the shallow northern section can freeze, but rarely.
According to legend, the water is home to a giant ancient reptile similar to the Loch Ness monster that is popular in Turkish folklore.
Buried beneath the lake’s waters, archeologists have found parts of a 3,000-year-old castle.
The region is also home to a special cat breed known as the Van cat. These cats, which are often spotted swimming in Lake Van, are known for having almond-shaped eyes of different colors.
The image was captured on September 12, 2016 by astronaut Kate Rubins from the International Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory