Photos of Tahoe Trips Wanted for Algae Study

     (CN) — University of California-Davis scientists have put out a call for old photographs of families’ trips to Lake Tahoe, which they hope to use in a crucial study of algae growth in the lake.
     After releasing their annual report last week, scientists from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center asked the public to submit photographs and anecdotes from their time spent at Lake Tahoe. They hope the photographs and stories will provide insights into the area that go beyond technical analysis.
     In the report, the group found that the mountain lake continues to get warmer, snowfall is still on the decline and regional winters are getting shorter. The water quality in the famously clear lake has worsened as well.
     “Everyone wants to know if there’s more of this stuff, but we don’t know,” Geoff Schladow, a professor at UC Davis, told the Associated Press.
     Studying algae growth is important because it is linked to high levels of nutrients, which are introduced through stormwater runoff and the atmosphere.
     “We have low rainfall and low sediments coming in. You would expect the clarity to be better,” Schladow said last week during a presentation at Sierra Nevada College as reported by the Sierra Sun.
     Officials and environmentalists have worried about the rise in surface temperatures of Lake Tahoe, which have spiked due to climate change.
     The report states the average surface temperature of Tahoe from 2014 to 2015 was 53.3 degrees, the highest on record. This was nearly half a degree warmer than what was recorded in the group’s previous report.
     Despite a reduction in the amount of sediment entering the lake last year — due to the ongoing drought in the West — the concentration of nitrate actually increased.
     The report acknowledged uncertainty about algae before 1980, which prompted Schladow and his team members to request old photographs and anecdotes from individuals who visited the area in the 1970s or earlier.
     “What we’re left to use is anecdotal data,” Schladow said. “We also ask for old photos, so if anyone has some they’d like to share unfortunately that is the only older data we have.”
     Scott Hackley, a staff research associate at UC Davis, said the group has worked with archivists at the University of Nevada, Reno, but they hope the public can contribute as well.
     “It’d be nice to get some old photos with the year, time of year and the location to fill in some of the historical gaps,” he said.

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