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Utah's Great Salt Lake Could Dry Up Within the Next Five Years—Here's Why

Climate change is affecting ecosystems around the world. Here's what you need to know about the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

utah great salt lake drying up
Written by
Calin Van Paris
The Great Salt Lake in Utah is an
environmental wonder
. Not only is it the
largest saline lake
in the Western Hemisphere, it's also responsible for a unique ecosystem that includes wetland wildlife, migratory birds, and human beings, who rely on the lake for jobs and economic contribution.
Unfortunately, the effects of
climate change
have made the lake an endangered landscape. So much so that a
recent report
has predicted it could completely dry up within five years.

Why Is the Great Salt Lake Disappearing?

great salt lake drying up
A remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric lake that spanned parts of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, the Great Salt Lake has experienced its share of saps and floods over the years. Still, 2022 saw the lowest volume on record at
4,188.6 feet
—which one report cites as
19 feet below
its average natural level since 1850.
And though that number will be slightly ameliorated with the help of winter's melting snowpack, the Great Salt Lake is still at severe risk of shrinkage.

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The lake's losses are largely due to drought, though worsened by human mismanagement of the water for use in business and agriculture. In order to save the lake, water use would need to be reduced by 30-50%.
zombie forests
ghost lakes
, and
melting ice
, shifting landscapes are a growing reality of climate change. Paying attention and doing our best to reinvigorate threatened landscapes—in this case, through concerted
conservation of water
—is the best way to preserve ecosystems where and when we're able.