Watch the Great Salt Lake rise and fall, but mostly fall, in these satellite images
Published: April 16, 2014 08:51AM
Updated: April 16, 2014 09:10AM
The clouds are reflected in the spiral jetty along the northern portion of the Great Salt Lake Tueday, May 5, 2009. The jetty was created by artist Robert Smithson in 1970. Black basalt rock was used to create a coil 1,500 feet long. (FOR WHARTONS WEST DESERT STORY). Jim Urquhart/The Salt Lake Tribune; 5/05/09


The Great Salt Lake is a little less great than it used to be.

Back in the mid-1980s, the West’s biggest water feature was swollen to some of it’s highest levels ever. Today, not so much; the banks of the lake have now receded to some of their lowest points in a generation.

The process of ebbing and flowing lake water is visible by clicking here to go to this website, which let users create their own timelapse sequences from satellite imagery dating back to 1984. To see the Great Salt Lake rise and fall, simply type in “the Great Salt Lake” and go. (I had to zoom out to see the entire thing.) Here’s a still image from the website:

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The resulting timelapse is fascinating; entire eastern portions of the lake disappear and the northern half, which is cut off by a rail causeway, fundamentally changes shape. The images also support findings from the U.S. Geological Survey showing the lake is at its lowest levels since the 1960s.

That timelapse website is also useful for seeing other changes. If you drag the map down to Point of the Mountain, you can see the growth of several sprawling south Salt Lake County communities. In Utah County, the map shows the growth and evolution of agriculture on the west side of Utah Lake. On a more global scale, the map offers a chance to watch the shrinking polar ice, urban expansion and other changes from the last 20 years.

Twitter: @jimmycdii