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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Utah Geological Association


Cenozoic Geology of Western Utah: Sites for Precious Metal and Hydrocarbon Accumulations, 1987
Pages 229-238

The Prediction of the Future Water Levels of the Great Salt Lake

Hurd C. Willett, John T. Prohaska


Three basic patterns of the general atmospheric circulation of the northern hemisphere control the prevailing character of our climate over varying periods of time. Those circulation patterns, observed most clearly at the 500 mb level in the atmosphere, are designated as: 1) the high-latitude zonal pattern, 2) the low-latitude zonal pattern, and 3) the cellular blocking pattern. There is a tendency for one or another of these basic circulation patterns to be predominant in successive phases of the sunspot cycles which arc associated with variable solar activity. Accordingly, it is possible to utilize solar climatic cycles, which consist of the predictable sequence of sunspots and related solar activity, and the climatic patterns associated with them, to predict changes or trends of climate.

During the past 40 years, the use of the solar climatic cycle technique has resulted in highly successful predictions of climatic changes or trends. These include prediction of the climatic trends of the third quarter of this century, prediction of the incidence of severe hurricanes along the North Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, and prediction of the current record changes of water levels of the Great Salt Lake, Utah. It is the success of these forecasts which justifies the application of the solar climatic technique to prediction of the future water levels of the Great Salt Lake, while rejecting any important Greenhouse effect of increasing atmospheric CO2.

Predictions based on the solar climatic cycle technique indicate briefly the following Great Salt Lake levels:

1. The current rising trend will peak at about 4,216–4,218 ft, with no allowance for any lowering of the level by West Basin pumping, by about 1990.

2. By the year 2002 the Great Salt Lake should be at a minimum level near 4,208 ft, followed by a rising trend to some 4,212 ft by the year 2012.

3. A falling trend to some 4,203 ft around 2023 probably represents about as low a level as the lake is likely to reach.

4. For the next 130 years, to about 2155, alternating moderate trends should keep Great Salt Lake water levels fluctuating in a rather moderate range between levels of approximately 4,200–4,217 ft, the level of overflow into the West Basin.

5. The following half century, to about 2200, should be a period of intermittently rapid rising lake levels, to levels as high or higher than those of the Maunder Minimum (4,225 ft) by 2190.

6. Following that peak, the Great Salt Lake probably will not again fall below the 4,217–ft overflow level and during the next 10,000 years will continue with variable trends, predominantly rising, to Lake Bonneville levels.

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