The Great Salt Lake is drying up at an alarming rate and its volume has decreased by close to 50%, which is a 170-year low. With dryer times on the horizon, we can sadly assume that we will see the lake drying up in our lifetime and turning into another dust bowl.
The lake is gradually dying as it gets smaller every year. Water diversion from rivers that feed the lake to towns and farms nearby is one of the causes. This has been compounded by drought and evaporation caused by climate change.
The mega-drought that is ravaging the western parts of the US has led to a state of emergency as wildfires sweep the region. The water level of the Great Salt Lake, America’s own ‘Dead Sea’ is close to 9 feet lesser than the early average for the dying lake.
The Great Salt Lake is larger than the Dead Sea between Israel and Jordan, and also the biggest saltwater body inside the western hemisphere.
The Drying Of The Great Salt Lake Could Spell Doom For Hundred Of Species
There are dire implications for animals as many would take years to recover from the reverse. The migratory birds would be severely affected as the food chain of the lake collapses.
The ‘living rocks’ that inhabit the bottom of the lake sustain the shrimp and brine flies. The death of these food sources at the lower end of the food chain would put the entire ecosystem at grave risk.
Also read: The Great Salt Lake Drops To Lowest Water Level
The microbialites would die out within weeks of the lake drying up, recovery would be a slow and painstaking process as the microbial mat recovers gradually.
The Great Salt Lake is the breeding ground of more birds than any other place in North America with over 300 varieties spotted during the breeding season.
Over 10M migrating birds rely on the microbialities of the lake and also other living beings in the entire lake system. The absence of these vital structures lower down the food chain will cause the impacts to be amplified going further up the chain.
Other disasters are looming. Arsenic could be set loose from the dry Utah plains and could lead to respiratory problems. The toxic element runs downstream and settles in the lake.
But water continues to be diverted in large quantities despite the impending disaster at rates that are the cheapest in the US. The lake could soon turn into one of the largest causes of dust emissions in North America.