Great Salt Lake Annual Level Prediction

The Great Salt Lake (GSL) contributes an estimated $1.3 billion annually to Utah's economy. The GSL is fed by three major rivers from the Uinta Mountain range in northeastern Utah. Due to its shallowness, the water level can rise dramatically in wet years and fall during dry years, hence reflecting prolonged drought and wet periods. The lake level change is strongly modulated by the Pacific Ocean through atmospheric circulations that fluctuate at low frequency

The following graph shows the observed annual lake level (blue) and predicted lake level (orange).

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By capturing these climate oscillations while using tree-ring reconstruction of lake level, USU researchers can now predict the lake level fluctuation onward for 5–8 years. The above graph shows observed annual lake level (blue) and predicted lake level (orange). This forecast is produced using the central tropical Pacific Ocean temperature, the GSL watershed precipitation, and the GSL level itself as predictors based on the references listed below.

1. Gillies, R. R., O.-Y. Chung, S.-Y. Wang, J. DeRose, and Y. Sun, 2015: Added value from 576 years of tree-ring record in the prediction of the Great Salt Lake level. Journal of Hydrology doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.08.058

2. DeRose, J. R., S.-Y. Wang, B. M. Buckley, and M. Bekker, 2014: Tree-ring reconstruction of the Great Salt Lake level. The Holocene. DOI: 10.1177/0959683614530441

3. Wang, S.-Y., R. R. Gillies, and T. Reichler, 2012: Multi-decadal drought cycles in the Great Basin recorded by the Great Salt Lake: Modulation from a transition-phase teleconnection. Journal of Climate, 25, 1711-1721.

4. Gillies, R. R., O.-Y. Chung, S.-Y. Wang, and P. Kokoszka, 2011: Incorporation of Pacific SSTs in a time series model towards a longer-term forecast for the Great Salt Lake elevation. J. Hydrometeorology, 12, 474-480.

5. Wang, S.-Y.,R. R. Gillies, J. Jin, and L. E. Hipps, 2010: Coherence between the Great Salt Lake level and the Pacific quasi-decadal oscillation, J. Climate, 23, 2161–2177.