With the number of people living in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains, and the volume of water they need, having increased rapidly over recent decades - and, with NASA scientists expecting these trends to continue for years to come - the current severe drought combined with the tapping of the Lake Powell's water at what many consider to be an unsustainable level, has reduced its levels to only about 42% of its capacity.
Forecasting that there is an 80 percent chance of an extended drought in the area between 2050 and 2099 unless aggressive steps are taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the researchers said their results point to a challenging - and remarkably drier - future.
As Reuters reports, scientists from NASA and Cornell and Columbia universities warned earlier this year that the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains regions are likely to be scorched by a decades-long "megadrought" during the second half of this century if climate change continues unabated.
More than 500 feet (150 meters) deep in places and with narrow side canyons, the shoreline of the lake is longer than the entire West Coast of the United States. It extends upstream into Utah from Arizona's Glen Canyon Dam and provides water for Nevada, Arizona and California.
The peak inflow to Lake Powell occurs in mid to late spring, as winter snow melts in the Rockies. But since 2012, snow and rainfall totals have been abnormally low as the region suffered persistent drought.
As the following images show, all around the lake, strikingly pale bands of rock have been exposed by the receding waters...