Nov 6, 2017

Great Salt Lake shrinking may be due to humans' thirst, not climate change

Water levels at the Great Salt Lake have dropped dramatically in the last 170 years

The Great Salt Lake is half the size it was in 1847. Scientists previously thought the lake was shrinking due to a shifting climate, but a study published last week in Nature Geoscience says it's getting smaller because humans are using water before it can reach the lake, writes Sarah Derouin for Science Magazine.

Why it matters: The Great Salt Lake is an important refuge for migratory birds and rare aquatic species. As the metropolitan area around the Great Salt Lake grows, the impact on water supply will need to be considered. Study author Wayne Wurtsbaugh tells Derouin water inflows into the lake will need to increase by at least 24% for it to stay healthy. Other salt lakes are shrinking, as well, likely for related reasons.

What they did: The researchers re-created 170 years of climate data using climate records, tree ring data, and stream level records. Precipitation changed little over time but the amount of water flowing into the lake declined greatly.

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America's future looks a lot like Nevada

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today's Nevada caucus will foreshadow the future of American politics well beyond 2020.

Why it matters: The U.S. is in the midst of a demographic transformation, and the country's future looks a lot like Nevada's present. Today's results, in addition to shaping the 2020 race, will help tell us where politics is headed in a rapidly changing country.

Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,359 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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