Researchers at the University of Utah found that declining water in the Great Salt Lake causes snow to melt earlier in the Wasatch Mountains. Deposits of dark-colored dust absorb heat and reduce the “albedo” (reflected radiation) of snow.
Researchers monitored a single dust storm in 2017 to verify the origin of dust from the exposed lake bed. Geography professor McKenzine Skiles, lead author of the study, says, “What’s important about the Great Salt Lake is that there are no water rights, no policy to maintain lake levels. As the lake declines, dust events are projected to become more frequent.”