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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.

Changing Water Levels in Lakes Mead and Powell, USA

36.0N 112.1W

November 2nd, 2012 Category: Lakes, Rivers

USA – October 27th, 2012

Visible amidst the dry, rocky terrain of the western USA are lakes, rivers and gorges. By the left edge is the three-pronged Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States in maximum water capacity. However, the lake has not reached this capacity in more than a decade, due to increasing droughts. It is located on the Colorado River, in the states of Nevada and Arizona.

Following the river eastward, one runs through the Grand Canyon (center) to Lake Powell (right), a reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. It is the second largest man-made reservoir in maximum water capacity in the United States, behind its neighbor, Lake Mead. Current water levels, however, put Lake Powell ahead of Lake Mead in water volume and surface area.

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.

Red and Pink Landscape Around Lake Powell, USA – October 1st, 2012

36.9N 111.3W

October 1st, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes

USA – September 16th, 2012

Visible amidst the red and pink hues of the surrounding landscape are the dark waters of Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. It is the second largest man-made reservoir in maximum water capacity in the United States behind Lake Mead, storing 24,322,000 acre feet (3.0001×1010 m3) of water when full. Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the controversial Glen Canyon Dam.

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