Utah’s Great Salt Lake hit an all-time low this week, victim like the entire western United States of a chronic drought exacerbated by climate change, said local authorities, who are concerned about the phenomenon’s impact on the economy and the environment.
The level of the lake, one of the largest salt lakes in the continental United States, naturally fluctuates with seasons and precipitation. But it has never been this low since measurements began in 1847, with the first Mormons arriving in the Salt Lake City area.
This historic record was first defeated in October 2021, as recalled in a press release by the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS).
“This is not the kind of record we would like to break,” said Joel Ferry, Utah’s director of natural resources, in the joint statement.
Urgent action is needed to help protect and conserve this vital resource. He insists that the lake clearly has problems.
Based on previous readings, “the lake level is likely to continue to decline until fall or early winter, when the amount of water entering the lake equals or exceeds its losses by evaporation,” the Geophysics Institute explains.
Utah authorities estimate that Greater Salt Lake contributes $1.3 billion annually to the local economy, whether it’s mining, fish farming, or tourism activities.
Even more worrying, reducing the lake also threatens many species of migratory birds that stop there and could also have health repercussions for the local population.
Scientists recently warned of deposits rich in arsenic particles lining the bottom of the lake. It can be carried by the wind and eventually poison the humans who breathe it if the surface of the lake drops excessively.
Almost all of the western United States is in the grip of an exceptional drought that reduces river flow and causes lakes and reservoirs to drop dramatically.
Climatologists show that there have already been continuous droughts for more than twenty years in the region. But this phenomenon, now combined with rising temperatures caused largely by human activities, is changing the region.
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