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A Rare Lake in the Hottest Place on Earth

By: Zachary Klinke

 

Climate change is impacting our world more and more every day. Almost everything climate change related has had negative impacts on our environment and society as a whole. In Death Valley National Park, an extremely rare phenomenon has resulted from the turbulent weather our country has recently been experiencing. Death Valley National Park is widely regarded as the hottest place on earth, and driest place in North America (it also has the lowest elevation in North American with Badwater Basin being -282 ft below sea level). Recently, due to unusually heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Hillary, a lake has formed in Badwater Basin dubbed "Lake Manly".



Death Valley on average receives about 2 inches of rainfall per year. In 2022 the park saw a record breaking 1.7 inches of rainfall happen in a matter of hours. This deluge caused massive flooding and serious damage to park roads, causing the park to close for weeks. On August 20, 2023, this record was broken yet again. Due to Hurricane Hillary, the park received an incredible 2.2 inches of rain in a single day (National Park Service, 2024). This caused the ephemeral Lake Manly to appear. While this dry lakebed has held water from time to time over the course of earth’s history, it is extremely rare with the most recent occurrence being 2005 (Oasis at Death Valley, 2024). At its peak Lake Manly was roughly 6 miles long, 3 miles wide and 1 foot deep (National Park Service, 2024). It has since moved about 2 miles due to high winds that have spread the water very thin (Deng, 2024). Before its migration, park goers had the rare opportunity to kayak its waters. Now, the lake is slowly drying up and will most likely be completely dry again by the end of the summer.


Weather events like Death Valley has seen in the past two years are becoming more frequent and extreme due to climate change. While Lake Manly can be seen as a “positive” outcome, most are negative. Almost all extreme weather events cause destruction to infrastructure and change the layout of the land for decades to come. In the future it would be worthwhile keeping an eye on Death Valley for the possibility of another Lake Manly appearance or other once in lifetime phenomena caused by climate change.


References


"August 5, 2022 recognized as rainiest day in Death Valley's history." NPS, 1 Sept. 2022,

Deng, Jireh. "National Park Service closes Lake Manly to further boating." LA Times, 6 Mar.

"LAKE MANLY IN DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK: A RARE SIGHT TO BEHOLD." Oasis at

"Rare opportunity to kayak in Death Valley National Park." NPS, 16 Feb. 2024,

"Weather." NPS, www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/weather.htm. Accessed 16 Mar. 2024.

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