Monday, July 28, 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

 
County’s chief lawyer: No Brown Act violation

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

General Plan workshop today

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

 
Two growth control initiatives get green light

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire burns more than 4,000 acres

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Fatal accident in Camino

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report released

By Ross Branch | From Page: A3

 
35 people displaced in Tahoe hotel fire

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A3 | Gallery

.

Opinion

The balancing act: Toxic waste spreads

By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Bee-ing silly

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Letters

Letter to Speaker of the House

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
GDPUD misinformation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

At the crossroads

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Want more water?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Refugee crisis

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Camp experience is ‘priceless’

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Speedway races cancelled

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

El Dorado doubles up on Pro Players

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Under the Scoreboard: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Schedule: July 28 – Aug. 2, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Roundup: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Local spiker shines

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
Sports Scene: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

.

Prospecting

A beautiful day at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm

By Cathy Barsotti | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Foothill gourmet: Things get corny

By Donna Brown | From Page: B2

Bipolar Insights: From point A to point B

By Marcia Rose | From Page: B2

 
Cool time at Cowboys and Cornbread

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

As we were: Recreation district grows

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B4

 
Cantare names new director

By Cantare Chorale | From Page: B10

 
After 5 Club to meet

By Senior Day | From Page: B10

.

Essentials

Divorces

By Charlotte Sanchez-Kosa | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

 
DUI Log: June 25-July 9

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 14-16

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

American Profile Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Monday, July 28, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8