The Great Salt Lake (GSL) is an under-researched and largely unknown
salt water lake. The Great Salt Lake spans about 75 miles long, and 28
miles wide, covers 1,700 square miles, and is the largest salt water
lake in the western hemisphere. The GSL is considered a terminal lake
because it does not reach the ocean. The water that feeds into GSL,
starts in the Wasatch Mountains, travels down the seven canyons where is
stops in the lake. The fresh water sources that feed into the lake are:
the Bear River, Weber River, and the Jordan River. These tributary
rivers continually bring minerals and small amounts salt dissolved into
GSL. When the water evaporates, it leaves those minerals and salt,
resulting in saltier water over time. The saliently of GSL varies widely
across its expanse—the north arm of the lake averages at 28% saliently
and the south arm of the lake average at 12%. The GSL is 3-to-5 times
saltier then the ocean.
The watershed around the Great Salt Lake spans over 21,000 square
miles and is home to millions of birds each year. These migratory birds
stop at GSL to feed, nest, and rest before migrating to the next
location. Every year, millions of birds from 257 different species rely
on the lake.
The Great Salt Lake has a diverse ecosystem that is continually
changing. Many species of plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians,
mammals, and birds rely on this lake for survival.
Learn More About the Great Salt Lake from the Utah Water Science Center