SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13)- The annual “state of Lake Tahoe” shows extreme changes in the lake’s water temperatures – and a dramatic increase in tree deaths.
Geoff Schladow is Director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and author of the State of Lake Tahoe, tracking the lake’s health and temperature.
“It’s going up on average,” Schladow said. “But year to year there are lots of extreme variations.”
Schladow reports this month, Lake Tahoe is on track to average its highest surface temperature on record, despite this year’s historic melted snowpack.
“Even with all that record snow that still represents less than one percent of the water in Lake Tahoe,” Schladow said.
Researchers are now so focused on the changes to Lake Tahoe they are recording the temperature of the water every two minutes, every hour, of every day.
This months’s expected record high comes a year after Lake Tahoe’s surface temperature was a record low.
Besides dramatic temperature changes, Schladow also reports 2016 saw an alarming number of tree deaths in the Tahoe basin.
“30,000 trees died in 2016 compared to half that number the year before,” Schladow said.
Those dead trees can lead to wildfire danger and more threats to Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem.
Now that this research director’s report card is in, scientists are scrutinizing the health of Lake Tahoe.
“I would give Tahoe an incomplete because the story is still unfolding,” Schladow said.
The report also showed less mixing between Lake Tahoe’s surface water and its deep water, which can lead to a decline in the amount of oxygen at the low levels where some animals live.