Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah, the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere.
According to the ESA, the water body is a remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which once covered much of the region.
The Bear, Weber, and Jordan rivers dump around one million tons of minerals into the lake each year. The lake does not have an outlet, which means it has a very high salt concentration.
Even though it is often referred to as America’s Dead Sea, Great Salt Lake is an important habitat for millions of native and migratory birds.
—The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered much of western Utah. The three major tributaries to the lake, the Jordan, Weber, and Bear rivers together deposit approximately 1.1 million tons of minerals in the lake each year. As it is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation), it has very high salinity (far saltier than seawater) and its mineral content is steadily increasing. Due to the high density resulting from its mineral content, swimming in the Great Salt Lake is similar to floating. Its shallow, warm waters cause frequent, sometimes heavy lake-effect snows from late fall through spring.
Image Credit: ESA