Images: NASA Earth Observatory

Years of drought have not been kind to Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States formed by the Hoover Dam in the 1930s. The lake, which hit its lowest level since 1937 this week, is a shadow of its former self in a dramatic new satellite image captured by NASA.

A key reservoir for Las Vegas, portions of southern California, Arizona and New Mexico, Lake Mead is replenished each year with snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. But as the years of unrelenting drought wear on, the snowpack has grown thin and the lake has been shriveling. It’s currently at roughly 37 percent of its 9.3 trillion gallon capacity.


For comparison, here’s Lake Mead in May of 1984, the last time the reservoir was full up. The way things are going, the citizens of Las Vegas are going to need to build fourth giant straw to bore into the Earth’s mantle and extract water from minerals.