Climate change has helped turn Utah’s Great Salt Lake into “a puddle of itself”

Climate change is wreaking havoc in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, making it “a puddle of itself”, according to a new report published in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Although still depicted on most maps in its former glory, the lake has shrunk considerably and now contains only half of its historic average, the newspaper reported. Utah is one of many western states with extreme drought conditions that researchers have linked to climate change, and in July, the lake’s water level hit a new low.

In the west, water problems have long been part of the political landscape, and in September Republican Rep. Blake Moore and Senator Mitt Romney introduced legislation to spend $ 25 million to monitor the system. water supply that supplies the Great Salt Lake.

“Its water levels are at an all-time low, leading to habitat loss, decreased water flows and air quality issues,” Moore said in a press release. “Unfortunately, the salt lakes of the Great Basin states face the same challenges. “

Climate change is a major driver of the rate at which the Great Salt Lake is disappearing, but human diversion of tributaries flowing into it has also affected its water level. The result, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, is that more shorelines are now exposed, threatening the brine shrimp that live in what is left of the lake and the birds that depend on it for food.

The Great Salt Lake

An area of ​​Grand Lac Salé that was previously underwater is now completely dry. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Although the lake water is not drinkable for humans, it harbors an ecosystem that benefits them. Lake-effect snowstorms, for example, help generate water for much of the surrounding area. The exposed dry lake, meanwhile, poses a threat to air quality in Salt Lake City, the Tribune reported, and adds more dust to the snowpack, causing it to melt earlier in the year, disturbing more water supply in the surrounding area. ecosystem.

It’s a cascading sequence of events that scientists have long warned against.

“As we change the climate, we have learned over the past decades that we are also going to fundamentally change how much water we get and where we get it, the intensity of storms, rainfall, the severity of droughts. and flooding, the demand for water from crops and our natural vegetation, ”climatologist Peter Gleick told Yahoo News in a recent“ Climate Crisis ”podcast.

The effect of climate change on Salt Lake City is no longer theoretical, and last week Utah Governor Spencer Cox called the lake’s drop in water levels “a problem for everyone on the bridge.” “.

The reality of how humans are accelerating the demise of the Great Salt Lake can no longer be ignored, and weather forecasting entities like AccuWeather have decided to reflect the situation with their maps.

“AccuWeather is committed to accurately depicting the boundaries of lakes to highlight the impact of climate change on our changing world,” the media company said in a statement.

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