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Alex Hinrichsen

28 April, 2015
Geography 1000
EPortfolio Project
For my EPortfolio project I decided to look into the Great Salt Lake and its dramatic
water shrinkage that has reached its reported record low for a whopping 167th year in a row
(Fritz 2014). If you were to visit the Great Salt Lake 20 years ago you would have seen around
300 boats docked in the marina. Today there are only 150, one third of which are stuck in the silt
(Boal 2015) from the dramatic water shrinkage.

Image by: Photo: KSL TV Boal 2015

This image gives a stark contrast as to where water levels were only 20 years ago.The
image on the right was taken in 1985 and the one on the left was taken in 2010.

Image by: "Images taken by the Thematic Mapper sensor aboard Landsat 5. Source: USGS Landsat
Missions Gallery, "Great Salt Lake1985-2010."

Since 2010 we have continued to lose more water in the Great Salt Lake. In fact, we are only a
couple feet away from reaching our record low that was set over 50 years ago (Boal 2015). The
lake is just a remnant of a much bigger lake that existed in the Pleistocene Epoch, in which there
was a very large increase in the amount of moisture which was caused by runoff from existing
glaciers, more rain and not enough evaporation. (Hess pg. 546) Below is an image of what the
lake used to be (in light blue) and what the lake is today (in dark blue).

Image by:

This historic lake has been known to rise and fall dramatically, here is a scale of the lakes
elevation since 1840:

Image by: Utah Geological Survey (Fritz 2014)

Although levels continue dropping and we have started to see less and less of an increase or
maintaining of water levels. Our dry winters, particularly the one we had this year only help to
exacerbate the issue. Just as our water levels continue to decline, the temperature of our planet is
beginning to rise. This diagram shows the huge increase just in the last twenty years.

Image by: SOURCE: Global Warming Art

This is a huge concern because warmer temperatures mean that snowpack doesnt stick around as
long, and doesnt have as much water to offer the lake.
The cause of this increasing warming is from human-enhanced greenhouse effect (Hess
pg. 104), which means that humans are performing activities that increase greenhouse gases,
gases that include carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons
(Hess pg. 104) when these gases increase terrestrial radiation stays in the lower atmosphere

which makes global temperatures increase (Hess pg. 104). Below is a graph showing how carbon
dioxide levels have increased just since the 1980s.

Image by: Figure 1: CO2 levels (parts per million) over the past 10,000 years. Blue line from Taylor Dome ice cores
(NOAA). Green line from Law Dome ice core (CDIAC). Red line from direct measurements at Mauna Loa, Hawaii

It is said that carbon dioxide is responsible for at least 60 percent of the human-enhanced
greenhouse effect.
So what can we do to stop this damaging warming that is not only causing the great salt lake to
shrivel up but affecting us in so many other negative ways. Geography professor A. Jon Allred of
Salt Lake Community College tells us to stop driving these:

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And start driving this:

Image by:

The act of getting a new car seems really simple but in the long run, if everybody cared enough
about the environment, or was concerned enough about the earth and the direction we are
headed, this small act could make a huge difference for us and all of the future generations after
we have passed.
Something that we can work towards on a more global scale would be shutting down
power plants that are responsible for releasing an unlimited amount of carbon into the air,
causing pollution.

Image by:

There are little to no rules in effect for power plants, which means that the amount of carbon
dioxide they are releasing into the air could be limitless and very harmful to our planet.
Here is an image of the Great Salt Lake as I flew over it a couple weeks ago:

Image by: Alex Hinrichsen

This historic lake is essential to the Salt Lake Valley and its future depends on us to take better
care of the environment. The lake will continue to dwindle until we decide to take action.

Facing the Heat: Mans chilling impact on Global Warming: Essential Answer. Nicholas
Jachowski Stanford Magazine. Jan/Feb 2010.
Great Salt Lake Approaches 167 Year Record Low. Angela Fritz The Washington Post. August
19, 2014.
Great Salt Lake level drastically dropping. Jed Boal KSL news. February 4th 2015.
Image: SOURCE: Global Warming Art
McKnights Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciation Eleventh Edition. Darrel Hess
Dennis Tasa. January 13, 2013.
Shrinking Lake. Tribune editorial Salt Lake Tribune. May 3, 2010.
During my time in my geography 1000 class I have learned a lot. Without the significant
amount of knowledge that I gained about global warming I would not have been able to complete

this assignment. I learned extensively about global warming. I was taught what global warming
is, the process by which it is damaging and some ways in which we can all be a little better about
how we treat our environment. With this knowledge I feel better prepared and more aware of
what I can personally do to reduce greenhouse gases in the environment.