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Nevada researchers collaborate on Lake Tahoe

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From page A15 | August 30, 2013 | 7 Comments

RENO, Nev. — From Tahoe’s mountaintops to the lake’s sandy bottom, scientists from the University of Nevada, Reno, continue to study and find solutions to the breadth of issues that face the entire Lake Tahoe Basin. Their research is making a tangible contribution to the decisions, policies and practices that guide the basin’s environmental health.

It’s been 16 years since the first Lake Tahoe Summit and, while there has been significant progress on protecting the pristine lake, much work remains to be done. Researchers, policy makers, state and federal agencies are turning their attention to the lake for this year’s Lake Tahoe Summit that took place Aug. 19.

From the first rustic snow survey by a University professor in 1906 – an advancement still in use today – to the latest technology using sonar and rocket guidance systems, university scientists continue to take the pulse of Tahoe’s climate and environment.

“While clarity is improving in the offshore this year, things are not as positive on the nearshore, which is where most of the public engages the lake,” Sudeep Chandra, University of Nevada, Reno, researcher and longtime limnologist at Lake Tahoe, said.

Chandra, director of the University’s Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory, is collaborating with other scientists to study the nearshore — among other issues — and how ultraviolet light levels, which are affected by particulates, help invasive species to thrive and cause native species to decline.

Working in collaboration with other research institutions and management agencies, the university’s scientists have taken an expansive view of the lake and its environs. Their research on the lake is extensive; they have looked at the basin as a whole to learn how its health relates to the clarity and health of the water.

“Our institutions have helped lead the way in discoveries on nutrient loading, water quality and watershed ecology,” Presidents Marc Johnson of the university and Stephen Wells of the Desert Research Institute wrote in the annual research review annually produced by the two institutions for the Summit. “Our scientists have helped develop innovative ways to monitor Tahoe’s precious ecology and in finding management strategies for the air, land and water of Tahoe that help, not hinder, the overall health of this unique natural resource.

“Our approach will continue to be interdisciplinary and inter-institutional. Our pledge to Lake Tahoe remains firm: our two institutions work in common cause, so that the lake’s heritage of beauty and clarity can be shared by our children’s grandchildren and beyond.”

A few current, ongoing Tahoe research projects are:

Warm-water invasive fish: Christine Ngai, project lead and researcher in the University’s Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory. This pilot project is to determine the effectiveness of mechanical removal methods for management of non-native fish and the restoration of native fish in Lake Tahoe. Her project received international attention this year when her team found a 4-pound goldfish in the Tahoe Keys while electrofishing.

Huge decline in bottom dwelling invertebrates: Annie Caires, project lead and researcher in the Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory. The bugs living in the muck at the deepest, darkest depths of Lake Tahoe have disappeared in substantial numbers – a 90 percent decline. New funding has allowed continued research to search for the sensitive species and look for ways to support their survival. Sampling of plants and soil in the Camp Richardson area was documented with video from underwater specialists New Millennium Dive Expeditions: http://youtu.be/GfHVt0_bvqM

Mountaintop environmental monitoring stations: Graham Kent, director of the University’s Nevada Seismological Laboratory. The multiple sites will be connected via the Seismological Laboratory’s statewide seismic network to collect and transmit climate and environmental information from remote sensing equipment. The network features 360-degree high-definition cameras to scan the forest and Tahoe communities for wildland fires.

Tahoe ozone nearing unsafe levels: Alan Gertler, vice president for research at DRI. Tahoe is one of the few areas in the region where ozone is increasing. It is now at a point where it will likely violate ambient air quality standards. Research also shows that air is a significant source of pollutants that lead to declining water clarity. The largest sources of nitrogen and hydrocarbons are cars, trucks and boats. These sources are also a significant source of particulate pollution.

Megadroughts in the Sierra Nevada: Graham Kent, geophysicist and director of the University’s Seismological Laboratory confirmed evidence of 200-year-long megadroughts through earthquake fault research at Fallen Leaf Lake in the Tahoe Basin. Underwater stands of pre-Medieval trees in the lake suggest the region experienced severe drought at least every 650 to 1,150 years during the mid- and late-Holocene period. The last one ended 750 years ago. “It is uncertain when the next megadrought will occur. With climate change upon us, it will be interesting to see how carbon dioxide loading in the atmosphere will affect this cycle,” Kent said.

Re-photographing Tahoe’s environment: Peter Goin, a University art professor, is tracking the changes to the environment matching new photos to old. His latest work is retaking photos and comparing them to photos from 1916 along Tahoe’s west shore. “The visual history of Tahoe precedes scientific research at the lake by some 60 years,” Goin said. “Within this broad range of time, there are some important visual images of the pre-scientific era of Tahoe.

Mike Wolterbeek

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

  • Richard EAugust 15, 2013 - 10:33 am

    While protecting the lake is worthwhile, I can't help thinking all the expensive scientific attention is slightly overkill. Somewhat like over-protective mothers dressing toddlers in snowsuits on cool autumn days, or forcing them to wash their hands constantly with anti-bacterial lotions. Take a picture today of the lake and compare it to a hundred years ago - and show me the destruction, please.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • cookie65August 30, 2013 - 4:17 am

    "continue to study and find solutions to the breadth of issues that face the entire Lake Tahoe Basin." Translation, throw us some more money confiscated from productive people.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Nevada researchers collaborate on Lake Tahoe | Nevada State Personnel WatchAugust 30, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    [...] source: http://www.mtdemocrat.com/news/nevada-researchers-collaborate-to-preserve-lake-tahoe/ [...]

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MartinSeptember 01, 2013 - 7:09 am

    I feel that our scientific community has and will continue to blame everything on the general public; you tell me how they can say that the ozone is almost out of control. I swear they think that because they have a scientific background that everyone will believe what they say! Common since will tell you that ozone layers at lower elevations move with the wind, check it today and tomorrow it will be different. They will use their influence to cause great harm to the endangered human species as they have done throughout the state of California. They are trying to turn every piece of non populated areas into “endangered” species habitat making the land almost entirely off limits to the general public, is this right thing to do? No but if they want to fulfill the dream of the UN agenda 21 project; they have to. The only species that are going to be affected are the human species that is because they are non native like the gold fish; they will have to use mechanical means to remove them.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • cookie65September 01, 2013 - 8:48 am

    Martin, there is one question the know-better-than-everyone money grubbing non-producing leftist loons refuse to answer. What is the natural habitat of man?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MartinSeptember 01, 2013 - 11:57 am

    According to winapeikka it seems that man has no natural habitat, they only destroy natural habitat. I knew that and know as long as we have the left wing loons they will do everything to destroy anything that man has accomplished. Just look around and see what they have already accomplished, unemployment is direct and none arguably there fault. If you want to have a business run from your garage like it used to be is impossible, many people during my lifetime until just lately did that; now if anyone finds out that you are doing that they shut you down, and god forbid they find that you have sprayed something that is carcinogen they will put you in jail. Look at the patented gold mine that the owner tried to operate up on big cut. It didn’t matter that they own enough property and had all the check and balances in place, they (inviromaniacs) even with a patented gold claim just straight out decided they can’t work it, instead of working with them and figuring out a way to let them continue; what a crock of crap! Just put them out of business and fine them a million dollars. Our government has let this socialist scum take over and make decisions that affect our economy without anyone to stop them, whatever they say stands. It is impossible to fight them in court! Our judges use no common sense; they just jump on the band wagon and close their eyes to what they are doing to us.

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  • robertdnollSeptember 01, 2013 - 6:12 pm

    according to wiki,man only destroys natural habitat,if that sentiment is held as a truth then supporting an activity that pollutes the environment is dichromatic. if you want to support an activity that improves the environment buy a California fishing or hunting license

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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