Great Salt Lake Information System

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Topography

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The steep topography in the region provides short distances from catchment areas to the regional base level. This physiography allows tractable transects across a range of geologies, elevations, climates, ecosystems, and land uses.

The following figures show the unique topography of the area surrounding the Great Salt Lake. The first figure looks east across the Salt Lake Valley toward the Wasatch Mountains. The urban areas of the watershed, shown in the foreground of this image, are tucked within the narrow corridor between the Great Salt Lake and the mountain front.

3D rendering of the Wasatch Mountains

These images show the gradients present in the Great Salt Lake Basin. Significant differences in climate exist between the valley bottoms and the mountainous regions - as is evidenced in the picture above where snow is still present at higher elevations. Valley bottoms receive much smaller amounts of precipitation and experience much higher temperatures during the summer. Gradients in topography and land use are also apparent - the figure below shows the stark difference between the mountains, which are primarily public lands in national forests, and the valleys, which are generally dominated by private urban and agricultural lands. These patterns are common throughout the Great Salt Lake Basin.

Gradients in the Great Salt Lake Basin

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