Alkaline lakes are incredibly dynamic, unique, and fascinating biogeo-chemical environments that have remained distinctive features of Earth’s evolving surface over much of its history. Understanding these evaporative surface waters, their exceptionally productive ecosystems, and their rare sedimentary deposits requires an inherently interdisciplinary approach at the intersection of hydrology, geology, and biology. The discipline-spanning articles in this issue evaluate the diverse characteristics that make these dry, salty, and habitable environments so valuable in unraveling the history and evolution of Earth’s surface, and in following the arc of habitability on ancient Mars. Here, in this introductory article, we summarize the characteristics and importance of alkaline lakes with the hope of attracting you, too, to join in our fascination with them.

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