Monday, October 15, 2012

Changes on the Playa

I've spent the last two weekends collecting field observations over the playa of the Great Salt Lake Desert.  The playa is an incredibly fascinating land surface.  One might even argue that it lives and breaths as it undergoes incredible changes due to weather, seasons, climate variability, climate change, and human disturbance.

For example, the storm on Friday and Friday night caused some noticeable changes to the brightness, texture, and wetness of the playa.  Compare the two photos below, which were taken last Sunday and yesterday.  They were taken in slightly different locations, but generally reflect the characteristics of the playa in the area in which we were operating.

Sunday 7 October

Sunday 14 October

Playas are known to have a strong influence on local circulations, not just in Utah, but other dryland regions of the world.  It will be interesting to see how the changes above affected the surface energy balance (e.g., the absorption of solar radiation, fluxes of heat and moisture to the atmosphere, etc.) and if those changes have an influence on airflows in and around the Great Salt Lake Desert.

It wasn't all hard work.  We did find time early yesterday afternoon to bag Volcano Peak just north of Wendover in the Silver Island Mountains.

1 comment:

  1. I visited the salt flats about a week ago and they seemed to have less salt than I've seen in 5 years. I wonder if that's an accurate assessment? Someone who was there for a racing/speed event said that Morton Salt had been sued regarding this and that they were going to be putting salt back starting this winter. Any truth to that?