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The Great Basin

great basin shadow.jpgThe reason for the Great Basin being so dry is the rain shadow effect, coming from the Sierra Nevada to the west of the desert. Large pacific storms which reach the west coast of the USA are forced to rise over the Sierra Nevada mountain range (meaning the air cools and rain falls) and as the air travels down the lee side of the range it is dry. This means that the Great Basin experiences an average of only 180mm of rain per year.





Due to the lack of rain, there it collects in areas of standing water. Mud flats and shallow salt lakes from which water evaporates fairly quickly are common, such as the Great Salt Lake, the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere. The Bear, Jordon and Weber rivers are the tributaries to the Great Salt Lake, from which Salt Lake City gains its name. The size of the lake regularly fluctuates as a result of the shallowness and the evaporation of water. Evaporation is the only way water can leave the system (an endorheic basin) leading…


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