Wednesday, July 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Phantom forest at Tahoe reveals past climate change

John Kleppe, PhD

JOHN KLEPPE holds an 800-year-old slab of yellow pine brought up from Fallen Leaf Lake. Photo courtesy Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

On March 15, Mountain Counties Water Resources Association, in conjunction with the Association of California Water Agencies Region 3, met at the Ridge Golf Course and Event Center in Auburn to hear the latest on climate change.

John Kleppe, whose home is on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake, brought evidence of a 300-year-drought in the Lake Tahoe area. If it happens again, will we be ready? he asked.

John Kleppe is professor emeritus at University of Nevada, Reno, where he was chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department.

Dr. Kleppe often takes his boat out to fish on Fallen Leaf Lake. Fallen Leaf Lake is one mile south of Lake Tahoe and 500 feet higher. It is a small lake, almost three miles long and a mile wide. The average depth is 240 feet. The deepest part is 492 feet.

For many years, Kleppe’s line kept bumping into something and he was puzzled why. What he caught was not a rare species of fish, but something even more rare — a tree from a forest dating back to medieval times.

Although the clarity of the lake is high, he could not see anything underwater. As a scientist, this was a mystery he had to solve. He tried SONAR, but got no soundings. In the late 1990s, he hired a diver, who quickly surfaced with a branch in hand. Kleppe sent a sample to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for carbon dating.

The tree, a yellow pine, dated back to around 1215 A.D. It had mineralized, and was as perfectly preserved as a marble statue. It was waterlogged, so it absorbs SONAR.

Further investigation revealed a number of trees nearly 100 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter, indicating they were over 200 years old when they died. This signifies that a “mega drought” occurred during the medieval period around 850 to 1150 A.D. The dry period was followed by an extremely wet period. There are signs that another lengthy drought occurred later.

Three older trees were discovered, suggesting that severe droughts happened farther back in time.

These longer cycles are different that the shorter fluctuations that have been recorded in the last 150 years.

Graham Kent, University of Reno Seismology Lab director, used a remotely operated underwater vehicle to create high-definition fault mapping of the bottom of Fallen Leaf Lake. His team traced the west Tahoe fault line. It is a 7.3 capable normal fault. Kleppe said Kent believes it may be ripe for action.

Kleppe said there is “a disconnect between science and society. We need to separate funny science from real science. We need to start saving water.”

For more information, including a report on the entire meeting, visit mountaincountieswater.com.

Comments

comments

Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

.

News

Six file for Dist. 2

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

 
District 2 candidates forum Aug. 14

By News Release | From Page: B1

EID ditch customers get relief

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1

 
Veterans receive wildland fire training

By News Release | From Page: B1

Market data open for local biz

By Ross Branch | From Page: B1

 
Heard over the back fence: Attorney to warn about scams

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Road zone of benefit protester reaches dead end

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Volunteers clean up national forest

By News Release | From Page: A3 | Gallery

.

Opinion

My turn: Special interests at EID

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4

 
Russian metastasis

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

The Democratic-Chronicles: Not invented here

By Gene Altshuler | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

DA hogging Main St. parking

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
CAO and staff hiring friends

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Altshuler’s hypocrisy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Small Farm compromise

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

EID and Dale Coco

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
.

Sports

Roundup: July 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Dolphins ring up another title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sharks defeat Loomis Basin in season finale

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Celebrity golf at Tahoe

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Dodgeball: Not the national pastime but …

By Shane Theodore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Prospecting

At a glance: Comets to meteors

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Taste the best at the State Fair

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Tractor Supply Store recognized

By Uc Cooperative | From Page: B3

 
Amador Fair honors cowboys

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B3

 
Arbor Day book helps to identify trees

By Arbor Day | From Page: B4

Learn about lavender and its many benefits

By Christian Women's Connection | From Page: B4

 
Lee’s Feed appreciates customers

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B5

 
My Time meeting in August

By Senior Day | From Page: B5

Builders’ Exchange honors scholars

By El Dorado Builders' Exchange | From Page: B5

 
En garde at Silver Screen Classic

By Auburn Silver Screen | From Page: B5

.

Essentials

Weather stats 7-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Crime Log: July 8-10

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

.

Obituaries

Walter Vali

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Jean Lachelle Taylor

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Arthur J. Funston

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8