Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lake Tahoe: Warmest water temperatures ever recorded

Absurd to think that a climate record that goes back to 1968 only can give you a picture of a long term trend.  But since the record goes back to 1968 only, we cannot test for a long term trend.  We can however look at the air temperature record from the nearby Tahoe station.  It's below.  What do we see?  We see that temperatures in the Tahoe area were markedly higher in the 1920s and 1930s.  Tahoe as a whole has been COOLING long term.  How likely is it that the lake is going to be different from its region?  Clearly, the scare below is an artifact of inadequate data

Lake Tahoe's average surface temperature last year was the warmest ever recorded, the latest evidence that climate change is altering California's iconic Sierra Nevada landmark.

In a report released Thursday by UC Davis, scientists said that the lake's waters in the past four years have been warming at 15 times their historic average.

The air temperature at the lake is becoming steadily hotter too. The winter of 2014-15 saw just 24 days where the average temperature dropped below freezing at the lake, according to the report, and only 6 percent of last year's precipitation fell as snow -- both all-time lows.

The ominous evidence threatens efforts in recent years to improve Lake Tahoe's famed blue clarity by reducing pollution. That's because the warming water will likely result in more algae growth, silt and invasive species, researchers said.

"The lake is changing, and it is changing at an increasing rate," said Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

The picture of a steadily warming lake -- and a vacation wonderland with a relentless trend toward hotter weather, more rain and less snow -- emerged from the 2016 "State of the Lake" report, a document the center publishes every year.

Straddling the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in America. It's 1,645 feet at its deepest point, behind only Crater Lake in Oregon. If the Empire State Building were submerged in Lake Tahoe, the top of its spire would still be below 200 feet of water. Roughly 3 million people visit each year.

"This year's report is definitely a warning," said Darcie Goodman Collins, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, an environmental group. "We need to improve our efforts."


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