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Getting Saltier : Great Salt Lake on Path to Hyper-Salinity, Mirroring Iranian Lake

SciTechDaily (OCTOBER 11, 2022)

Titre : Getting Saltier : Great Salt Lake on Path to Hyper-Salinity, Mirroring Iranian Lake

SciTechDaily (OCTOBER 11, 2022)

Présentation
Starved for freshwater, the Great Salt Lake is getting saltier. The lake is losing sources of freshwater input to agriculture, urban growth, and drought. According to Wayne Wurtsbaugh from Watershed Sciences in the Quinney College of Natural Resources, this drawdown in freshwater is causing salt concentrations to spike beyond even the tolerance of brine shrimp and brine flies.

Deciphering the ecological and economic consequences of this change is complex and unprecedented. Experts are closely observing Lake Urmia in Iran — another stressed saline lake — for clues on what to expect next. According to new research from Wurtsbaugh and Somayeh Sima from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, this “sister lake” offers obvious, and troubling, parallels to the fate of the Great Salt Lake.

The history of both lakes has moved along similar trajectories, though at different paces. As less freshwater moves through connected rivers and streams into these lakes, natural salts become more and more concentrated in the water. Native brine flies and brine shrimp tolerate salt, but when saline levels reach certain extreme concentrations—at times reaching saturation—even animals and plants specially adapted to saline environments can struggle. This means as well that millions of migratory birds that depend on these food sources will also struggle, starve, or leave.

Over the decades, expanding urban populations in northern Utah have claimed more freshwater for crops, lawns, and faucets, putting gradually intensifying stress on the ecosystem. Now a 20-year drought is pushing salinity levels further towards untenable levels, Wurtbaugh said.

Source  : QUINNEY COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY

Annonce (SciTechDaily)

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