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Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona Border, USA – August 14th, 2009

36.0N 114.7W

August 14th, 2009 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes

Utah, USA - July 26th, 2009

Utah, USA - July 26th, 2009

The contours of the Nevada and Arizona landscape around Lake Mead and the Colorado River appear quite sharp in this orthorectified image. Filled by water impounded by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the USA.

However, the combination of a huge demand for Lake Mead’s water and climate change has resulted in a 100 foot drop in this large lakes’s water level since 2000. Although that may not seem to be a great deal of water loss, it is important to remember that the vast reservoir is wide at the top but narrow at the bottom. This means that the 10% drop in depth actually represents a 50% loss in volume.

This huge loss happened in just nine years – The lake went form 96 percent capacity to roughly 43 percent, as of May 2009. The US Bureau of Reclamation predicts that water levels will drop another 14 feet over the summer.

Last year, researchers at the University of California San Diego concluded that if climate change goes uncurbed and water use is not reduced, Lake Mead could dry up by the year 2021.

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