[Skip to content]
ISS007-E-13002
Browse image
Resolutions offered for this image:
540 x 490 pixels 846 x 768 pixels 540 x 525 pixels 996 x 976 pixels 996 x 976 pixels 3032 x 2064 pixels 6144 x 4068 pixels 639 x 435 pixels

MAP LOCATION
latitude/longitude of image
Spacecraft nadir point: 42.0° N, 111.1° W

Photo center point: 41.0° N, 112.5° W

Nadir to Photo Center: Southwest

Spacecraft Altitude: 204 nautical miles (378km)
Click for Google map
IMAGE DETAILS
features and other details
CAMERA INFORMATION
information about camera used
ALL DOWNLOAD OPTIONS
additional formats
Width Height Annotated Cropped Purpose Links
540 pixels 490 pixels Photographic Highlights Download Image
846 pixels 768 pixels Photographic Highlights Download Image
540 pixels 525 pixels Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
996 pixels 976 pixels Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
996 pixels 976 pixels No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
3032 pixels 2064 pixels No No Download Image
6144 pixels 4068 pixels No No Presentation Download Image
639 pixels 435 pixels No No Download Image
Other options available:
Download Packaged File
Download a Google Earth KML for this Image
View photo footprint information
Image Caption: Effect of Drought on Great Salt Lake:
Great Salt Lake serves as a striking visual marker for astronauts orbiting over North America. A sharp line across its center is caused by the restriction in water flow from the railroad causeway. The eye-catching colors of the lake stem from the fact that Great Salt Lake is hypersaline, typically 3-5 times saltier than the ocean, and the high salinities support sets of plants and animals that affect the light-absorbing qualities of the water. North of the causeway salinities are higher, and the water turns red from the pigments of halophilic bacteria. In the shallower corners of the lake, earthen dikes mark large salt evaporation works, which take on the jewel tones of turquoise, russet, amber, and pearl white.

The detailed image (ISS005-E-16729) shows some of the salt works operated by Great Salt Lake Minerals and Chemicals Corporation near West Warren, Utah, on the eastern shore of the lake. Evaporative salt harvesting at Great Salt Lake is an important source of minerals for industrial uses. The lake contains an estimated 5 billion tons of salt, with 2.5 million additional tons washing in each year. Extraction rates are slightly higher than the amount added to the lake each year. In addition to sodium chloride, the ponds near West Warren are used to extract potassium sulfate and magnesium chloride, which are used to make fertilizers.

Space Station astronauts have recorded the decline in lake levels in response to a regional 5-year drought taking both detailed views and broad views of the entire lake (this image and ISS002-707-87). As lake levels have declined the salt works have become islands in the middle of a dry lakebed. Seasonal fluctuations in Great Salt Lake produce annual lows every fall, but there are significant longer-term fluctuations in lake levels relating to the climate. Great Salt Lake hit a 22-year low at 4,198 feet in the fall of 2002, and a near-record low again in October 2003. The lowest level ever recorded was 4,191 feet in 1963, and the highest levels were 4,212 feet in June 1986 and April 1987. Experimental scientific forecasts predict that lake levels will begin gradually increasing again, but the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook indicates only limited improvement from this snow season because the water deficits are so high.

Around the world, lake levels are an excellent indicator of local climate. Repeat observations over time allow comparisons and levels rise and fall in response to droughts and the broader climate patterns that are linked to droughts.

Less-detailed images of the decline in the Great Salt Lake as seen from Terra satellite's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor were previously shown on Earth Observatory.

Space Station images of Salt Lake City were also previously featured on Earth Observatory.