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.
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?
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.
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%.
Between 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.
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