Look: 7 Great Salt Lake images reveal how shockingly fast its shrinking

Originally Published: 
NASA Worldview


Droughts and water shortages are becoming more extreme in the western U.S.

As the climate crisis worsens, many areas are seeing drastic landscape changes.

Take Utah’s Great Salt Lake, for example.

Explosive population growth coupled with worsening droughts have led to record-low water levels in recent years.


The lake is shrinking so fast that its transformation can be seen from space.

NASA Worldview


Things have changed a lot since the lake saw historically high water levels in the 1980s, and orbiting satellites have captured the shrinkage from above.


Here are 7 views of the shrinking Great Salt Lake over time:

7. This was the Great Salt Lake in September 1987 during an especially rainy year.

Image by Landsat 5 (USGS/NASA)

6. And here’s the lake in June 2022, during a year of historically low water levels.

Image by Landsat 8 and 9 (USGS/NASA)

USGS/contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2022), processed by ESA

5. This perspective shows the shrinkage from 1985 to 2022.

4. As the lake dries up, winds kick up toxic dust from the lakebed. Darker orange/red spots denote higher aerosol levels around the lake.

3. Population growth has a major impact on water levels. White dots show where people lived in 1985, and red dots in 2019.

ESA (Contains data from the DLR World Settlement Footprint)

2. Starting in 2000, this map shows the gradually decreasing water levels every five years until 2020.

1. A closer view of the northern Great Salt Lake and Clyman Bay shows how much lakebed became exposed from 2017 to 2021.

Image by Landsat 8 (USGS/NASA)

Thanks for reading,
head home for more!