Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features the Great Salt Lake of Utah, which is slowly vanishing. According to ESA, the declining water levels could have devastating consequences for the economy, ecology and people of northern Utah.
“The lake generates snowpack, acts as a refuge for hundreds of migratory birds and other wildlife, and generates millions in economic development through mineral extraction and tourism,” says ESA.
“The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere, and one of the most saline inland bodies of water in the world. As the lake shrinks, it becomes saltier which endangers flies and brine shrimp which millions of birds rely on for food.”
“The dust is laced with copper, arsenic and other dangerous heavy metals that have accumulated in the lake, much of it being residue from mining activity in the region,” explains ESA. The agency reports that the dust poses a public health hazard when dust storms carry the heavy metals into populated areas, with respiratory damage being the primary threat.
Image Credit: ESA