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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Half Empty or Half Full?

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, May 22, 2014/Categories: photography, environment

Lake Powell is running low on water.

The reservoir along the Utah and Arizona border, created by the damming of Glen Canyon in 1963, is now below fifty percent (50%) capacity. The boundary of the former shoreline is seen in a Landsat-8 image with bleached rocks, dry sandbars, and ribbon of water.

Lake Powell, 5-13-14  (credit: Landsat 8)

Climate models predict that less moisture will fall as snow in the watersheds of the Colorado River but will be increasingly replaced by rain. This isn't what the builders of Glen Canyon Dam expected in their original optimistic water forecasts. The National Park Service has decided to post a warning for boating enthusiasts:

"Launch at your own risk! The public is asked to use extreme caution when using the public launch ramps at Lake Powell. The decrease in water levels has reduced the depth of water in these areas, creating shallow water on the ramps with steep drop-offs."

Half full vs half empty may begin to take on new meanings for Lake Powell and for cities, farms, and power boaters.


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