Friday, September 30, 2016

Weather Observations on the Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats, a remarkable geological wonder, in July 2008
The Bonneville Salt Flats are a remarkable geological wonder and well worth a visit and a hike of a nearby mountain.  Most people drive through them at a high rate of speed trying to get to Nevada or California as quickly as possible, but even a quick stop reveals a world completely different than any other you have experienced.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are perhaps best known for land-speed events that take place on the hard salt crust to the northeast of Wendover.  In recent years, however, that salt crust has thinned and degraded, forcing cancellations or restrictions in speed events and sparking controversy concerning management of the salt flats.

Brenda Bowen, a professor of Geology and Geophysics and director of the Global Change and Sustainability Center at the University of Utah, is leading a 3-year study to improve understanding of the Salt Flats and their recent change (see this Scientific American article for more information).  Yesterday, some intrepid members of our MesoWest team installed a weather station on the Salt Flats to help with the effort, and returned with some great photos.

These photos illustrate the highly dynamic nature of the Salt Flats.  It's not uncommon for portions of the salt flats to be covered with water, but thanks to recent storms, the coverage and depth is quite high.

Click here to access weather observations from the station.

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