America’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, is 73% empty. NASA shares stunning images

The depth of continuing drought damage to America’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, can be seen in shocking recent photographs released by NASA. Recently released satellite images taken by NASA’s Earth Observatory show the dramatic drop in water levels. As of July 18, Lake Mead was at its lowest level, at just 27% of its full capacity. This is the result of a 22-year downward trend. Water levels in the reservoir are the lowest since April 1937, when the reservoir which has a maximum storage capacity of 9.3 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters) was still full for the first time.

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Water from Lake Mead is used by millions of people; Farmers, a few communities living on tribal lands in Arizona, Nevada, California and northern Mexico.

Michael Carlowicz of NASA’s Earth Observatory called Mead’s shocking condition “a stark illustration of climate change and a long-term drought that could be the worst in the American West in 12 centuries”.

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The majority of the water in this massive reservoir comes from snowmelt from the Rocky Mountain Range, which flows through Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead before entering the reservoir.

In addition to being an important source of drinking and irrigation water for the Southwest, Lake Mead is a popular boating destination and National Recreation Area.

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The US National Park Service reported that five of the six boat ramps are currently closed. On its website, it said “declining water levels due to climate change and 20 years of continuous drought have reshaped the park’s shorelines.”

He added that “As Lake Mead continues to recede, extending the launch pads becomes more difficult and more expensive due to topography and projected lower water levels.”

The summers of 1983 and 1999 marked the last time the lake was near capacity.

(With agency contributions)

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