Great Salt Lake Information System

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Background on the Great Salt Lake Information System

The Great Salt Lake Information System seeks to improve understanding and management of the Great Salt Lake as an integrated system and to provide a single repository for organizing and sharing data related to the Great Salt Lake. Its purpose is to promote awareness of exisiting data and research results. This will give us a better understanding to the Great Salt Lake and to become better-informed stewards of this important resource.

This information system collects and organizes diverse diverse data relating to the Great Salt Lake from many different agencies and organizations. Water quality, water quantity, biology, ecology, human effects and many other kinds of data will be included to address emerging topics of concern, such as:

  1. What are the effects of diking on the Great Salt Lake? How does the imposition of artificial flow boundaries affect the quantity and quality of water in the Great Salt Lake and how do these in turn affect the unique ecosystems both within and surrounding the lake?
  2. How do nonlinear interactions between snow deposition and loss in the mountains, streamflow and groundwater recharge at high and mid elevations, and evaporation from the desert floor affect levels of the Great Salt Lake, and what ecological and economic effects are caused by fluctuating lake levels?
  3. What is the status and quality of habitat associated with the Great Salt Lake and its wetland complexes?
  4. How will accumulating murcury partition between the water, sediments, and biota? What biological effects will this have, and what can be done?

Answering these encompassing and complex research questions is important, and as this happens, the lessons learned will guide the future management of the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding watersheds. One significant challenge, however, is the large scale of the Great Salt Lake and its watershed and the difficulty in synthesizing information from the large number of organizations that oare working on data collection and research related to the Great Salt Lake. Already, a variety of research results and data are available from many different agencies, organizations, and stakeholder groups. Available datasets range from observational records of lake levels and discharges from the major tributaries to the lake, water quality and sediment sampling records, GIS and remote sensing datasets, and a host of others. The results of these research studies and data collection programs are spread amongst published journals, agency websites and data systems, and the private files of individual investigators.

The goal of the Great Salt Lake Information System is to unite major sources of data and information related to the Great Salt Lake and its contributing watersheds into a single Internet-based system. It will provide individuals and agencies interested in the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding watershed with a large array of fully integrated capabilities, including unprecedented access to data and information related to the Great Salt Lake, data visualization and analysis capabilities, and education and outreach materials. It is anticipated that the Great Salt Lake Information System will increase the availability of data and information related to the Great Salt Lake and will promote cooperation among the agencies, organizations, and other stakeholders charged with managing it.