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Badwater Basin In Death Valley


Prelims: Geography (Places in News), Badwater Basin, Death Valley

Mains: General Studies-I, Salient features of World’s Physical Geography.

Why in the News ?

In North America’s driest region, Badwater Basin in Death Valley has been persisting and expanding as a temporary lake. This Phenomenon has been documented by NASA through satellite imagery. 

Source: DTE

📌 FYI on Prelims

Reasons for extreme Heat in Death Valley:

  • Solar heating: The valley’s surface undergoes intense solar heating because the air is clear and dry and the land is dark and sparsely vegetated.This is especially noticeable in summer when the sun is nearly directly overhead.
  • Trapping of warm air: Warm air naturally rises and cools.But in Death Valley this air is subject to continual reheating as it is trapped by high, steep valley walls and recycled back to the valley floor.Warm air also is trapped by the valley’s north–south orientation which runs perpendicular to prevailing west-to-east winds.
  • Migration of warm air from other areas (advection): Warm desert regions adjacent to Death Valley, especially to the south and east often heat air before it arrives in Death Valley.
  • Warm mountain winds: As winds are forced up and over mountains (e.g. the numerous ranges west of Death Valley), the winds can be warmed in several ways.The resulting dry, warm winds are known as foehn winds.


  • Badwater Basin:

    • It is an endorheic basin. The endorheic nature implies that water does not naturally exist there, but rather flows into it. It often leads to swift evaporation and the formation of temporary lakes.
    • Location- It is located in Death Valley, California, USA. It holds the distinction of being the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level.
    • Nearby landscape– It is just 84.6 miles east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the United States.
    • Recent phenomenon which has been observed:
      • Recent heavy rainfall, following Hurricane Hilary in August 2023, has altered the landscape of the region and has resulted in the appearance of Manly Lake.
      • The lake initially reduced in size, but surprisingly persisted through the fall and winter seasons. Its recovery in February 2024 was facilitated by a robust atmospheric river that replenished its waters.
      • In Death Valley, which usually sees just 51 millimeters of rain per year, there was an extraordinary 125 millimeters rainfall in the last six months.


  • Death Valley: 

    • It is a desert valley in Eastern California, USA in the northern Mojave Desert, bordering the Great Basin Desert.
    • It is one of the hottest places on Earth, along with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara.
    • Climate: Death Valley has a scorching desert climate, with summer temperatures frequently exceeding 100°F (38°C). It holds the world record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature, hitting 134°F (56.7°C) in July 1913 at Furnace Creek.
    • Flora and Fauna: Even in its tough conditions, Death Valley hosts diverse plant and animal life well-suited to desert settings. Typical plants include creosote bush, desert holly, and different types of cacti. The park is home to wildlife like bighorn sheep, coyotes, kit foxes, and various reptiles

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