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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Negev

(Israel Twitter)Negev, נֶּגֶב‎‎, Tiberian vocalization: Néḡeḇ, النقب‎ al-Naqab, is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab (Arabic: النقب‎). The origin of the word Neghebh (or in Modern Hebrew Negev) is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'. In the Bible the word Neghebh is also used for the direction 'south'.

Geography
The Negev covers more than half of Israel, over some 13,000 km² (4,700 sq mi) or at least 55% of the country's land area. It forms an inverted triangle shape whose western side is contiguous with the desert of the Sinai Peninsula, and whose eastern border is the Arabah valley. The Negev has a number of interesting cultural and geological features. Among the latter are three enormous, craterlike makhteshim (box canyons), which are unique to the region; Makhtesh Ramon, Makhtesh Gadol, and Makhtesh Katan.
The Negev is a rocky desert. It is a melange of brown, rocky, dusty mountains interrupted by wadis (dry riverbeds that bloom briefly after rain) and deep craters. It can be split into five different ecological regions: northern, western, and central Negev, the high plateau and the Arabah Valley. The northern Negev, or Mediterranean zone, receives 300 mm of rain annually and has fairly fertile soils. The western Negev receives 250 mm of rain per year, with light and partially sandy soils. Sand dunes can reach heights of up to 30 metres here. Home to the city of Beersheba, the central Negev has an annual precipitation of 200 mm and is characterized by impervious soil, allowing minimum penetration of water with greater soil erosion and water runoff. The high plateau area of Ramat HaNegev (Hebrew: רמת הנגב‎, The Negev Heights) stands between 370 metres and 520 metres above sea level with extreme temperatures in summer and winter.

Contemporary environmental issues
85% of the Negev is used by the Israel Defense Forces for training purposes.. In the remaining portion of the Negev available for civilian purposes, a large number of citizens live together in close proximity to a range of types of hazardous infrastructure, which includes a nuclear reactor, 22 agro and petrochemical factories, an oil terminal, closed military zones, quarries, a toxic waste incinerator Ramat Hovav, cell towers, a power plant, several airports, a prison, and 2 rivers of open sewage.


People lounging on the grounds of Midreshet Ben Gurion.
The Tel Aviv municipality dumps its excess waste in the Negev Desert, at Dudaim Dump. In 2005 the Manufacturers Association of Israel established an authority to begin marketing a project to move 60 of the 500 industrial enterprises currently active in the Tel Aviv region to the Negev.
The Ramat Hovav toxic waste facility was planted in the area of Beer Sheva and Wadi el-Na'am in 1979 because the area was perceived as invulnerable to leakage. However, within a decade, cracks were found in the rock beneath Ramat Hovav. From its inception, the facility developed a history of accidents and closures; in the past, regional councils regularly discovered that the evaporation pools of Ramat Hovav's Machteshim chemical factory had overflowed or that waste was leaking from drainage pipes into their reservoir. Nearly ten years after its establishment, outcrops of the chalk under Ramat Hovav showed fractures potentially leading to serious soil and groundwater contamination in the future.

Solar power

David Faiman of the National Solar Energy Center in front of the world's largest solar parabolic dish.
The Negev Desert and the surrounding area, including the Arava Valley, are the sunniest parts of Israel and little of this land is arable, which is why it has become the center of the Israeli solar industry. David Faiman, an expert on solar energy, feels the energy needs of Israel's future could be met by building solar energy plants in the Negev. As director of Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Center, he operates one of the largest solar dishes in the world.
A 250 MW solar park in Ashalim, an area in the northern Negev, was in the planning stages for over five years, but it is not expected to produce power before 2013. In 2008 construction began on three solar power plants near the city; two thermal and one photovoltaic.
The Rotem Industrial Complex outside of Dimona, Israel has dozens of solar mirrors that focus the sun's rays on a tower that in turn heats a water boiler to create steam, turning a turbine to create electricity. Luz II, Ltd. plans to use the solar array to test new technology for the three new solar plants to be built in California for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

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