Nautilus

Iran’s Great, Dying Salt Lake

As Urmia dries up, it leaves huge salt beaches behind.Giulio M via Flickr

The last time my cousin Houman traveled to Lake Urmia was 10 years ago. He and four of his friends piled into his car and drove for roughly 12 hours, snaking west from the capital of Tehran. Iran is shaped like a teapot; its massive saltwater lake is nestled high in the tip of its spout and flanked by the mountains that run along the Turkish border to the west.

They had heard a

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