The Great Salt Lake is a relatively large, though shallow and endorheic lake, located within a semi-arid climate. As a result, its surface temperature can vary dramatically from day to day, and its surface area and salinity vary significantly both intra- and inter-annually. These variations can have a substantial effect on downwind mesoscale weather, including lake-effect precipitation, low-level static stability, and wind. However, the lake's temperature, area, and salinity are often not well represented within mesoscale models.
This study employs the WRF model to explore the sensitivity of simulated mesoscale weather to adjustments in surface temperature, size, and salinity. The lake surface temperature is represented using composites of observed skin temperature from MODIS. The lake size is adjusted using topographic and bathymetric data, in combination with real-time measurements of lake surface elevation. The salinity is adjusted proportionally to the lake volume. Sensitivities within a small number of case studies will be discussed, as well as possible implications within a changing climate.