Great Salt Lake in the United States dropped to its lowest recorded level this month after years of drought. Researchers fear severe threats to wildlife who depend on the lake in the state of Utah.
Each year, an estimated 10 million birds from more than 330 species migrate through or live at the lake. The lake is known for the many ruddy and redhead ducks who live and nest there. Around 90% of the world’s eared grebe population live at the lake.
Because of the drought, Salt Lake City, near the lake, has already experienced dust storms that could worsen. “To save the Great Salt Lake, so that we don’t become Dust Lake City, is to make a conscious choice that the lake is valuable and that the lake needs to have water put into it,” said scientist Kevin Perry.
For years, water that would usually end up in the lake has been used for agriculture and human consumption. Combined with the current drought, which has been worsened by climate change, the lake dried up, and more lakebed has been exposed.
Nearly half of the lake’s surface area has been lost compared to the historic average, exposing around 800 square miles (2,000 square km) of lakebed.
There is around one-fourth of the volume of water in the lake now as there was in 1987, the US Geological Survey said.