Earthprints: Lake Powell


Click to enlarge — Photo Essay by Rick Wilking

Where the Colorado River falls from the snow-capped Rocky Mountains into the arid U.S. Southwest, lies Lake Powell.

More than 150 meters deep in places and with narrow side canyons, the shoreline of the lake is longer than the entire West Coast of the United States. It extends upstream into Utah from Arizona’s Glen Canyon Dam and provides water for Nevada, Arizona and California.

But a severe drought in recent years, combined with the tapping of the lake’s water at what many consider to be an unsustainable level, has reduced its levels to only about 42 percent of its capacity, according to the U.S. space agency NASA…

Scientists from NASA and Cornell and Columbia universities warned earlier this year that the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains regions are likely to be scorched by a decades-long “megadrought” during the second half of this century if climate change continues unabated.

Forecasting that there is an 80 percent chance of an extended drought in the area between 2050 and 2099 unless aggressive steps are taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the researchers said their results point to a challenging – and remarkably drier – future.

RTFA for details, descriptive photos in wide-ranging formats. Worth the time spent to learn and reflect.

10 thoughts on “Earthprints: Lake Powell

  1. Nikohl Vandel says:

    We really should look at all the water deals too … some shady government business deals amongst several states. why is Nabisco still bottling water for $ when it is this bad? IDK. smh

  2. Cassandra says:

    “Lake Powell could dry up in as little as six years, study says” http://tucson.com/news/local/lake-powell-could-dry-up-in-as-little-as-six/article_0e0b61d1-10d7-51aa-a29a-bcb1d9d6eb0f.html During the 2000-2005 drought, Lake Powell lost 13 million acre-feet of water and dropped almost 100 feet. Today, the lake has about 13 million acre-feet left, said Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which is helping to oversee the study.

  3. Reality ✓ says:

    “Climate change is shrinking the West’s water supply : Three new studies show dry times ahead.” http://www.hcn.org/issues/49.10/climate-change-is-shrinking-the-wests-water-supply All three studies point to the influence of a warming climate. “Climate change is real, it’s here now, it’s serious and it’s impacting our water supplies in a way that will affect all of us,” says Bradley Udall, a water and climate researcher at Colorado State University.
    🀆 “The twenty-first century Colorado River hot drought and implications for the future,” Water Resources Research, February/March 2017. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016WR019638/full
    🀆 “Large near-term projected snowpack loss over the western United States,” Nature Communications, April 2017. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14996
    🀆 “Depletion and response of deep groundwater to climate-induced pumping variability,” Nature Geoscience, January 2017. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v10/n2/full/ngeo2883.html

    • Hi&Dry says:

      Based on hydrological model simulations and a new snowmelt tracking algorithm, a recent study shows that 53% of the total runoff in the western United States originates as snowmelt, despite only 37% of the precipitation falling as snow. In mountainous areas, snowmelt is responsible for 70% of the total runoff. By 2100, the contribution of snowmelt to runoff will decrease by one-third for the western U.S. in the IPCC RCP8.5 scenario. Snowmelt-derived runoff currently makes up two-thirds of the inflow to the region’s major reservoirs. Substantial impacts on water supply are likely in a warmer climate. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GL073551/abstract;jsessionid=A1BF947261E7D3B4FAD6930648ACE88A.f04t01

  4. p/s says:

    “As Lake Powell Hits Landmark Low, Arizona Looks to a $1 Billion Investment and Mexican Seawater to Slake its Thirst : Gov. Doug Ducey hopes to solve the state’s water woes during his last year in office as decades of drought strain water supplies from the Colorado River.” https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20032022/lake-powell-water-drought-arizona-desalination/
    Last week, for the first time since it was filled 50 years ago, the water level in Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the country, dropped so low that it threatens the ability of Glen Canyon Dam to generate electricity for some 6 million customers that depend on it.
    The Colorado river’s flow has declined at least 20 percent since 2000 and is expected to decline more than 9 percent for every degree Celsius of warming, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
    The drying coincides with a rapid increase in population in the region, especially in Arizona, which was third in population growth and migration gains from 2020 to 2021, following Texas and Florida.

  5. Cassandra says:

    News that Arizona’s Lake Powell is slowly but surely drying up has spread far and wide. The reservoir behind the 1,320-megawatt Glen Canyon Dam and power station, Lake Powell plays an important role in providing power for some 3 million customers in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
    But this year, the reservoir has hit a historic low, due to ongoing drought conditions in the region that have been attributed, at least in part, to climate change. The dam may even stop producing power if the situation continues to worsen, and this issue is not an isolated one in the American Southwest. https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/04/its-not-just-glen-canyon-dams-around-the-southwest-are-taking-a-hit/

  6. Eighty-sixed says:

    The federal government announced Tuesday it is taking unprecedented, emergency steps to help boost water levels at Lake Powell.
    The measures are intended to buy the surrounding communities more time to plan for the very real possibility the reservoir, the country’s second-largest, will soon run out of water and the ability to produce hydropower amid the West’s climate change-driven megadrought. https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/us/lake-powell-emergency-steps-drought-climate/index.html
    The dam generates power for as many as 5.8 million homes and businesses in seven states.

  7. Goner says:

    Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory modeled future drought indicators to gauge how climate change could impact the Colorado River Basin.
    “We really think that drought is one of the greatest risks in terms of climate change to the stability of the Colorado River Basin,” said Katrina Bennett, a member of the Los Alamos team that published the results of that modeling in the journal Earth and Space Science.
    These changes could alter reservoir management and irrigation in the entire Colorado River Basin. This basin includes parts of seven states and is generally divided into the lower basin states of Nevada, Arizona and California and the upper basin states of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. The Glen Canyon Dam is used as the dividing point between the two basins. https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2022/05/24/los-alamos-team-models-drought-climate-change-on-the-colorado-river/

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