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The Colors of Utah’s Great Salt Lake – Climate detectives – Expedition Home
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Oceans and water bodies

The Colors of Utah’s Great Salt Lake

Date : 27/08/2020
Number of team members : 1
Team member age : 16 years old
What source did you use for the image : ESA EO image of the week
Link to image : View website

This image, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, shows Utah’s Great Salt Lake. It is a remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered up most of Utah. The wild color differences between the lake’s different sections are owed to human activity. This activity has, unfortunately, taken a toll on local biodiversity over the past century.
The line in the image’s upper side is actually a railroad. It acts as a dam, preventing northern and southern waters from mixing. The lake lacks outlets and is fed by three freshwater affluents, two affluents being on the southern side. Thus, the northern half is much saltier, providing the green color of the water and the lake’s nickname, “America’s Dead Sea”. These waters are only inhabited by brine shrimp and flies.
In the image’s lower part we can also see bright blue near one of the islands, as well as in the upper right corner, although here the color is closer to shore. Both locations are evaporation ponds, built by humans to efficiently collect the lake’s salt. Although they keep the southern waters even fresher than usual by helping to remove salt, they greatly restrict the habitat of the native birds and algae.

Images and descriptions are submitted by the teams/individuals and they take the full responsibility of the shared data.