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Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River was completed in 1963. It created Lake Powell, which ebbs and flows depending on upstream precipitation. Lately, it’s been more ebb.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encompasses Lake Powell and is visited by more than 2 million people per year.

Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin has been in an extended drought. During the period 2000–2018, the inflow of water into Lake Powell was above average in only 4 years. As a result, Lake Powell was at less than half capacity in January 2019and 28% full in June 2022.

Droughts combined with a rising population means water sustainability will only become more of a challenge. In addition, hydropower capacity at Glen Canyon Dam could be reduced. Severe droughts are a regular part of the climate variability in this region; however, droughts are expected to become more severe in the future.

This study is just one example of researchers finding that extreme, prolonged droughts are expected in the U.S. Southwest throughout this century.

Imagery

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Oct. 29, 1963, ARGON satellite — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
July 4, 1984, Landsat 5 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
June 27, 1993, Landsat 5 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
June 25, 1998, Landsat 5 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
Aug. 31, 2005, Landsat 5 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
Aug. 19, 2018, Landsat 8 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
July 10, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA
June 27, 2022, Landsat 8 (path/row 37/34) — Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, USA

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References

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