Many lakes in eastern South Dakota have expanded during the Landsat record that began in 1972. Lake Thompson is one that has displayed remarkable change in recent decades.
This part of South Dakota is in what is known as the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). Numerous depressions in the land were left behind there after the most recent glacial retreat. These depressions are termed potholes and collect rainfall and snowmelt to form wetlands and ponds of varying size.
A wet period in the 1980s and several years in the 1990s resulted in dramatic filling of Lake Thompson, located about 50 kilometers west of Brookings, SD, along with other nearby lakes and sloughs. Lake Thompson is now South Dakota’s largest natural lake.
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