Lake Turkana

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Lake Turkana
Jade Sea
Lake TurkanaJade Sea -
Coordinates 3°35′N 36°7′E / 3.583°N 36.117°E / 3.583; 36.117Coordinates: 3°35′N 36°7′E / 3.583°N 36.117°E / 3.583; 36.117
Lake type Saline, monomictic, alkaline, endorheic
Primary  inflows Omo River, Turkwel River, Kerio River
Primary  outflows Evaporation
Catchment  area 130,860 km²
Basin  countries Ethiopia, Kenya
Max. length 290 km
Max. width 32 km (20 mi)
Surface area 6,405 km2 (2,473 sq mi)
Average depth 30.2 m
Max. depth 109 m
Water volume 203.6 km³
Surface  elevation 360.4 m
Lake Turkana seen from the South Island.

Lake Turkana, formerly known as Lake Rudolf, is a lake in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Its far northern end crosses into Ethiopia.[1]

It is the world's largest permanent desert lake and the world's largest alkaline lake. By volume it is the world's fourth largest salt lake after the Caspian Sea, Issyk-Kul Lake and the (shrinking) Aral Sea. Among all lakes it ranks 24th.

The water is drinkable, but not palatable. It supports a rich lacustrine wildlife. The climate is hot and very dry.

The rocks of the surrounding area are predominantly volcanic. Central Island is an active volcano, emitting vapors. Outcrops and rocky shores are found on the East and South shores of the lake, while dunes, spits and flats are on the West and North, at a lower elevation.

On-shore and off-shore winds can be extremely strong as the lake warms and cools more slowly than the land. Sudden, violent storms are frequent. Three rivers (the Omo, Turkwel and Kerio) flow into the lake, but lacking outflow its only water loss is by evaporation. Lake volume and dimensions are variable. For example, its level fell by 10 meters between 1975 and 1993.[2]

Due to temperature, aridity and geographic inaccessibility, the lake retains its wild character. Nile crocodiles are found in great abundance on the flats. The rocky shores are home to scorpions and carpet vipers. Although the lake and its environs have been popular for expeditions of every sort under the tutelage of guides, rangers and experienced persons, they certainly must be considered hazardous for unguided tourists.

Lake Turkana National Parks are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sibiloi National Park lies on the lake's eastern shore, while Central Island National Park and South Island National Park lie in the lake. Both are known for their crocodiles.

The Lake Turkana area is regarded by many anthropologists as the cradle of humankind due to the abundance of hominid fossils.

References[change | change source]

  1. The boundary between Ethiopia and Kenya has been a contentious rational distinction. A brief consideration of the topic can be found in the State Department document, Ethiopia - Kenya Boundary
  2. Historic lake levels are graphed in the World Lakes Database.