Great Salt Lake - 1985-2010
Landsat satellite imagery shows the dramatic changes in the area of the Great Salt Lake over the last 25 years. Mosaics of four satellite images were used to illustrate the changes over the full lake area. The 1985 image shows that upstream feeder streams, charged by snow melt and heavy rainfall, have filled the lake to near capacity. In the 2010 mosaic, drought conditions upstream have impacted the lake region. The Promontory Peninsula, which in 1985 had high water on three sides, is now connected to land on its eastern side. Similarly, Antelope Island is connected to marshy units near Salt Lake City.
The water levels of the Great Salt Lake change from year to year and even within single years, based on precipitation from rivers flowing into it. During below-average years, water levels drop and salinity rises. This causes the shoreline to recede and the wetlands to dry up. When precipitation is high, lake levels rise and salinity drops. The shoreline expands and wetlands get covered by salt water. This is harmful to sensitive plants and destroys wildlife habitats. Regional resource management officials used the Landsat satellite data to monitor, on a regular basis, the conditions and variable changes in the lake region.