Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images
Recent satellite images of the POT show the dramatic loss of water that has occurred during the last 22 years in the lake meadthe largest reservoir in the country that provides water for Californiaother neighboring states and Mexico, devastated by the drought.
The following photo shows how the deep blue trickle of water meanders through the desert of Snowfall in July 2000.
But Lake Mead continues to shrink and has narrowed amid the parched landscape in July of this year, as the photo below shows. Lake Mead and much of the Colorado River basin are in the midst of a 22-year drought.
Water levels in Lake Mead are at their lowest since April 1937, when the reservoir was still being filled for the first time. As of July 18, 2022, Lake Mead is only 27% full.
The largest reservoir in the United States supplies water to millions of people in seven states, tribal lands and northern Mexico. And right now, it also provides a stark illustration of climate change and the effects of a prolonged drought that may be the worst in the West in 12 centuries.
The low water level comes at a time when 74% of the nine states in the West are facing some level of drought and 35% of the area is in extreme or exceptional drought.
In Colorado, home to the headwaters of the Colorado River, 83% of the state is now in drought, and last winter’s snowpack was below average in many places.
The natural color images above were acquired on July 6, 2000 and July 3, 2022 by NASA’s Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 satellites.
The detailed images below also include a Landsat 8 view on July 8, 2021 (center). The light-colored bands along the coasts in 2021 and 2022 are mineralized areas of the lake shore that were previously underwater when the reservoir filled closer to capacity. The phenomenon is often referred to as a “bathtub ring.”
In addition to serving as a major source of drinking water and irrigation for the Southwest, Lake Mead is a national recreation area that is particularly popular with boaters.
According to the National Park Service, five of the six boat ramps/ launches are now closed.
“Decreasing water levels due to climate change and an ongoing 20-year drought have reshaped the park’s shorelines,” the Park Service said on its website. “As Lake Mead continues to recede, extending the launch ramps becomes more difficult and costly due to the topography and the projected decline in water levels.”
It may interest you:
– World War II ship emerges in Lake Mead in the face of violent drought in Nevada
– Federal authorities announce drastic cuts in the water supply of the Colorado River for the West
– California in water crisis, but its use increases dramatically despite the drought