What happened to this lake?
August 7, 2013 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Browsing google maps here, there's a lovely blue lake in the middle of the desert. If you look at the satellite/earth view, the lake disappears, replaced by more desert and an industrial facility.

What happened to the lake? Is it a Aral Sea kind of thing with irrigation projects diverting rivers? What's the blue facility in the middle of where the lake used to be?
posted by Barry B. Palindromer to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lop Nur -- former salt lake + potassium chloride factory, according to Wikipedia.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:31 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

That, and the map view shows the nominal extent of the full lake (as is usual with maps), while the satellite/earth view shows the state when the image was taken.

You'll see exactly the same thing with most ephemeral watercourses & lakes (e.g. Lake Eyre)
posted by Pinback at 10:53 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, the setting and so on reminds me a lot of Sevier Lake. More info. Every map shows Sevier Lake as a large, pleasant looking lake, but I don't think I've ever seen a satellite image with any water. Though I'm sure there are times when it has some water or is even filled--it might be seasonal, or only during the wet season after several wet years, etc. Irrigation and upstream reservoirs seems to affect it a lot. But even in wet, full years it's more likely shallow and brackish than the large, blue, pleasant lake the map image conjures up.
posted by flug at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes. Ephemeral lake. You would be absolutely surprised at how blue and lovely a shallow body of water can be on certain days. Absolutely reflective blue mirror. Happens here frequently, and standing high on a hill looking out makes a four inch deep alkali pan full of water look like an oasis. It can be gone the next morning.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:03 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

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