Lake Tahoe experienced a record-breaking year in 2015. The lake is warming 15 times faster than its long-term average rate.
Lake Tahoe is one of hundreds of lakes around the world that are badly affected by climate change.
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According to a new report by UC Davis Tahoe Environment Research Center, the iconic blue lake is warming at an alarming rate of 0.3 F per year which is 15 times faster than its long-term average rate (.018 per year) and this warming trend has made it difficult for the lake to maintain its original ecosystem and pristine state.
Surrounded by Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in United States. It is also listed among the oldest and deepest lakes in the world. The lake is a precious freshwater reservoir and to understand its response to ever rising temperatures, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) had been formed back in 2004.
The research center monitors water quality, physical processes and ecology of Lake Tahoe using a network of real time sensors. What center finds using sensors helps researchers to analyse the physics, chemistry and biology of Lake Tahoe and enables them put their results into the context of long-term record.
Lake Tahoe is warming up rapidly and this warming trend has entered the fourth consecutive year. However, Lake Tahoe experienced a record-breaking year in 2015 when its temperature warmed nearly one-half of a degree from the previous year to a record 53.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, changes in water chemistry are becoming more visible than ever before.
“The occurrence of rising air temperatures at Lake Tahoe has been known about for many years now and with it the warming of the lake,” said Geoff Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “What is different this year is that we’re seeing more aspects of the lake’s internal physics changing and that is bound to alter the ecology.”
Continued warm and dry conditions have also contributed to the low water levels in the lake last year.
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The changes in the ecology of Lake Tahoe are driven by both natural forces and persistent human activities. These changes may not be reversible but the latest findings can influence policy decisions about the ecosystem and the management of Lake Tahoe and may help research efforts at other lakes around the world.