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Water Levels of the Great Salt Lake, USA

41.0N 112.4W

June 18th, 2013 Category: Lakes MODISTerra

USA – June 17th, 2013

The Great Salt Lake is located on a shallow playa. Consequently, small changes in the water-surface elevation result in large changes in the surface area of the lake. This is particularly evident when the lake spills into the west desert at an elevation of about 4215 feet, greatly increasing its area.

The lake differs in elevation between the south and north parts. The Union Pacific Railroad causeway divides the lake into two parts. The water-surface elevation of the south part of the lake is usually 0.5 to 2 feet higher than that of the north part because most of the inflow to the lake is to the south part. The causeway, which hinders mixing, also explains why the northern half of the lake appears to be a different color than the southern half.

Sensitivity of Great Salt Lake, USA, to Climate Change

41.0N 112.4W

June 6th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes MODISTerra

USA – June 5th, 2013

The Great Salt Lake Basin is a closed basin, meaning that it does not drain to an ocean. The Great Salt Lake (above center) stands out as a collector and integrator of signals from climatic and anthropogenically-induced hydrologic change. These changes are recorded in ancient lake terraces, accumulated sediments, short-term lake level changes, and recent changes in lake water chemistry.

The Great Salt Lake Basin is a snow-dominated hydrologic system, and, as such, it is highly sensitive to climate change. Changes in the volume of the Great Salt Lake, which have been recorded since 1847, represent the integrated effects of all of the major components of the hydrologic cycle.

The steep topography in the region provides short distances from catchment areas to the regional base level. Transects within the basin can span a range of geologies, elevations, climates, ecosystems, and land uses.

There is a high degree of interannual variability in precipitation within the Great Salt Lake Basin. In addition, the precipitation distribution is not normal, with bimodal tendencies toward wet or dry periods.
The three major watersheds to the east of the Great Salt Lake (the Bear River, Weber River, and Utah Lake Watersheds) provide the vast majority of water, sediment, and contaminant flux to the Great Salt Lake.

Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake in Western USA

40.2N 111.7W

October 8th, 2012 Category: Lakes

USA – October 7th, 2012

Visible in this image are two lakes in Utah, USA: the Great Salt Lake (above) and Utah Lake (below). The linearly split grey and dark green bicoloring of the former is due to a causeway that runs across the lake and restricts the mixing of the waters between the northern and southern halves. Utah Lake, on the other hand, appears uniformly bright green, probably due to sediments and phytoplankton growth. Unlike its neighbor to the north, it is a freshwater lake.

Fires in Mountains North of Great Salt Lake, Western USA

42.6N 112.9W

September 24th, 2012 Category: Fires

USA – September 5th, 2012

Fires blazing near the Idaho-Montana border release plumes of smoke that blow due eastward (click here for previous images). While the fires appear to be located in mountainous, forested terrain, land of a more arid nature can be observed to the south, near the Great Salt Lake and Great Salt Lake Desert, in Utah, and in Nevada.

Snow and Salt Flats Near Great Salt Lake, USA

42.0N 111.3W

March 31st, 2012 Category: Lakes, Mountains, Salt Flats

USA - December 23rd, 2011

Snow rests atop the terrain east of the Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah. The land west of the lake also appears white, although much of this is due to the presence of salt flats rather than snow.

The Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere. In an average year the lake covers an area of around 1700 square miles. Another smaller lake, Bear Lake, can be seen across the mountains to the northeast, surrounded by snow. It is a natural freshwater lake on the Utah-Idaho border and the second largest natural freshwater lake in Utah.