Great Salt Lake Desert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Great Salt Lake Desert
Desert
Utahgeography.jpg
The desert's white salt is depicted in Utah's northwest.
Name origin: Great Salt Lake
Country United States
State Utah
County Juab County, Tooele County
Part of Great Salt Lake Desert watershed
(7,200 sq mi)[1] of the Great Basin
physiographic section
Borders on Cedar Mountains, Silver Island,
Hogup, Newfoundland Mountains,
& Lakeside Range

West (NV): Pilot Range.
Area 4,000 sq mi (10,360 km2)
Biome Central Basin and Range ecoregion

The Great Salt Lake Desert is a large dry lake in northern Utah between the Great Salt Lake and the Nevada border which is noted for white evaporite Lake Bonneville salt deposits. Several small mountain ranges crisscross through and along the edges of the desert, such as the Cedar Mountains, Lakeside Mountains, Silver Island Mountains, Hogup Mountains, Grassy Mountains, and Newfoundland Mountains. On the western edge of the desert, just across the border with Nevada, stands Pilot Peak in the Pilot Range.

The desert is cool during the winter and includes unusual plants adapted to the dry conditions. Most of the desert receives less than 8 inches (200 mm) of annual precipitation.[2] The salt crust covering the desert reforms each year when the rain evaporates. The military's Utah Test and Training Range is in the northern portion of the desert. The lowest part of Juab County is located just south of the Dugway Proving Grounds, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwest of the northwest corner of the Fish Springs Range.[3]

Middle Spring in the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge at the northeast corner of the Fish Springs Range

History[edit]

During Jedediah Smith's 1826-7 expedition, Robert Evans died in the desert;[1] and in the 1840s, westward emigrants used the Hastings Cutoff through 130 kilometres (81 mi) of Great Salt Lake desert to reduce the distance to California. Howard Stansbury explored the desert in 1849.[2] The 1846 Donner Party difficulties in making the crossing contributed to their becoming snowbound in the Sierra Nevada.[citation needed] In 1956, Interstate 80 in Utah replaced the Wendover Cut-off across the desert, including a straight east-west section for ~50 miles (80 km) between the Cedar Mountains to the east and Wendover on the Utah/Nevada border. Following a railway completed across the desert's Bonneville Salt Flats in 1910, the flats were first used as a speedway in 1914. The world records for highest land speeds are regularly broken here.

Climate[edit]

The Great Salt Lake Desert experiences a desert climate with hot summers and cold winters. The desert is an excellent example of a cold desert climate. The desert's elevation, 4,250 feet above sea level, makes temperatures cooler than lower elevation deserts, such as the Mojave. Due to the high elevation and aridity, temperatures drop sharply after sunset. Summer nights are comfortably cool. Winter highs are generally above freezing, and winter nights are bitterly cold, with temperatures often dropping well below freezing.

Climate data for Knolls, Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah. (Elevation 4,250ft)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 63
(17)
63
(17)
79
(26)
87
(31)
98
(37)
104
(40)
106
(41)
103
(39)
99
(37)
89
(32)
71
(22)
66
(19)
106
(41)
Average high °F (°C) 36.5
(2.5)
41.4
(5.2)
54.4
(12.4)
62.3
(16.8)
72.3
(22.4)
83.5
(28.6)
92.8
(33.8)
90.9
(32.7)
80.0
(26.7)
64.3
(17.9)
46.5
(8.1)
36.5
(2.5)
63.4
(17.4)
Average low °F (°C) 16.9
(−8.4)
19.3
(−7.1)
29.1
(−1.6)
36.6
(2.6)
44.9
(7.2)
54.7
(12.6)
62.1
(16.7)
59.5
(15.3)
48.0
(8.9)
34.4
(1.3)
23.3
(−4.8)
14.5
(−9.7)
37.0
(2.8)
Record low °F (°C) −16
(−27)
−17
(−27)
−1
(−18)
14
(−10)
24
(−4)
35
(2)
43
(6)
39
(4)
25
(−4)
8
(−13)
−3
(−19)
−25
(−32)
−25
(−32)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.61
(15.5)
0.46
(11.7)
0.91
(23.1)
1.01
(25.7)
1.23
(31.2)
0.68
(17.3)
0.36
(9.1)
0.31
(7.9)
0.56
(14.2)
0.77
(19.6)
0.61
(15.5)
0.38
(9.7)
7.88
(200.2)
Snowfall inches (cm) 0.3
(0.8)
0.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.1
(0.3)
0.5
(1.3)
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Northern Great Salt Lake Desert Watershed (Cataloging Unit 16020308)". Surf Your Watershed. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2010-05-04.  (southern (1602036)
  2. ^ a b "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ Nash, Fred J (2008). Utah's Low Points: A guide to the Lowest Points in Utah's 29 Counties. pp. 114–122. ISBN 978-0-87480-932-9. 
Great Salt Lake Desert as seen from Pilot Peak
The desert's Wendover AFB operated from 1940 to 1986.