As the Great Salt Lake’s water level drops, arsenic-laced dust from the drought-stricken area poses a threat.
Concerns about arsenic-lake dust from the lake bed are growing as water levels at the Great Salt Lake hit an all-time low, posing a risk of further disrupting the ecology and dispersing into the air humans breathe.
The USGS said on Saturday that average daily water levels had fallen roughly an inch below the previous record of 4,191.4 feet set in 1963. (1,278 meters).
The dust, according to experts, might affect the snowpack in the mountains surrounding the Great Salt Lake, causing the snow to melt faster and the water to be absorbed in the soil rather of reaching the lake.
The megadrought affecting the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River has already impacted a pelican nesting site, which is one of the lake’s many millions of birds. To avoid being caught in the mud, sailboats have had to be hoisted out of the water.
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According to Candice Hasenyager, assistant director of Utah’s Division of Water Resources, the new record comes months before the lake regularly reaches its lowest level of the year, indicating that water levels could continue to drop even more.
Water from rivers that run into the lake has been diverted for years to irrigate crops and supply dwellings. Less water quickly translates to retreating shorelines because the lake is shallow — around 35 feet (11 meters) at its deepest point.
Spring runoff can fill the Great Salt Lake by up to two feet (half a meter) in most years. It was only six inches this year (15 centimeters).
Drought is drying up lakes across the West, and catastrophic wildfires in California and Oregon are getting worse. Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has pleaded with residents to reduce lawn watering and “pray for rain.”
Extreme weather patterns are frequently created by a combination of extraordinary random, short-term, and natural weather patterns, which are exacerbated by long-term, human-induced climate change.
Scientists have long predicted that as the world heats, the weather will become more unpredictable, and climate change has already made the West significantly warmer and drier in the last 30 years.