today at mono lake

the mono-logue

mono lake live

live webcam images

calendar of events

username:

password:

click here for
"remember me"

register
login help


The Mono-logue


Major Categories   Search Blog:

Bartshé, Education Director | The Mono-logue - Part 2

Author Archive

Walker Fire 7% contained

Sunday, August 16th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Fire crews worked overnight to stop the Walker Fire spreading east to Highway 395 and north toward Highway 120. The fire is currently 7% contained, and more fire activity is expected today. Lee Vining is currently under a precautionary notice for potential evacuation in case fire activity spreads. Highway 120 west remains closed from Highway 395 to the Blue Slide (just east of Warren Fork). Highway 120 is unlikely to open today. The cause of the fire, originating at Walker Lake, is currently under investigation.

Walker fire burns in Bohler Canyon.

The Walker Fire burns during the night of August 15, just west of Highway 395, in Bohler Canyon. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

July, the new January?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

After four years of drought in California snow has become a rare sight in the Sierra Nevada, but in July?! Last week an upper-level low-pressure system moved westward across California and generated thunderstorms, rain, hail, and a local dose of real snow to the Tioga Pass region, especially in the Lee Vining Creek headwaters. The area around Saddlebag Lake, in particular, received a solid coating of snow, estimated between 6-10″ in the early morning hours of July 9. The morning was reminiscent of January, except for highlights of bright green vegetation struggling through an unfamiliar white blanket. With a strong El Nino building in the Pacific, might this be a harbinger of the winter ahead? California, the Sierra Nevada, and Mono Lake are greatly in need of anything close to a normal snowpack, but as this past week illustrates, there is no normal with precipitation in California, just variability.

Mt. Dana, above Tioga Pass on July 9, 2015.

Mt. Dana, above Tioga Pass on July 9, 2015.

New snow above Saddlebag Lake

Mt. Excelsior and ridge in fresh snow behind Saddlebag Lake, July 9, 2015.

Saddlebag Lake and the Tioga Ridge

Saddlebag Lake, Shepherd Crest (upper-left) and the Tioga Ridge on July 9, 2015. Note heavy snow near the ridge and Dore Pass (from upper-middle to upper- right). Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Penstemon newberryi

Mountain Pride, Penstemon newberryi, in fresh snow, July 9, 2015. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

El Niño: Drought savior or much ado about nada?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

If climate model trends prove true, a significant El Niño event may be present by next fall. Could it mean an end to the California drought? Will it reverse Mono Lake’s falling lake level?

A very strong El Niño event in 2015 continues to be suggested by models.

A very strong El Niño event in 2015 continues to be suggested by models.

If El Niño strengthens and persists into the late fall, there will be an increased chance of above-normal precipitation for Southern California. The Eastern Sierra could also benefit, and the prognosis would be encouraging compared to the last four years. However, there are no guarantees, especially in an age of increasing oceanic and atmospheric temperatures and shifting climate patterns. We have observed few strong El Niño events in California history, and if one develops this fall it will be the most closely monitored and talked about to date.

In 2014 there were encouraging signs of a strong El Niño, but forecasts missed the mark. The Pacific is showing even more robust conditions this year, and the models are more bullish than ever. Even if an El Niño brings abundant precipitation in 2016, one wet winter cannot make up the deficit from California’s most extreme drought in 1,200 years.

This post was also published as an article in the Summer 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter.

Mono Lake mired in drought

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

By now, nearly everyone has heard that California is suffering from record-setting drought. After four consecutive years of below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures, the state is reeling. Every watershed in California is stressed, a mandatory 25% water reduction is in effect for residents, urban areas have begun rationing supplies, over half a million acres of agricultural land are fallowed, fish species are nearing extinction, millions of trees in the Sierra are dying from drought-related stress, and fire danger is extreme. Water levels in lakes and reservoirs around the state are well-below normal. The Mono Basin is also suffering from extraordinary drought.

Negit Island and islets, October 2012 at lake level 6382.4'. Today the lake is 6379', four feet above the connection with Negit Island. Photo by Arya Degenhardt, with Aerial support by Lighthawk.

Negit Island and islets, October 2012 at lake level 6382.4′. Today the lake is 6379′, four feet above the connection with Negit Island. Photo by Arya Degenhardt, with Aerial support by Lighthawk.

Four dry years have depressed Mono Lake five feet in elevation and the lake is expected to lose around two feet this year. (more…)

Blue revolution in Southern California

Sunday, June 7th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Over half of all urban water use goes toward outdoor use. In Southern California, residential lawns provide a frontier of opportunity to conserve water. The worst drought in the state’s history and some strategic financial incentives have sparked a water-saving landscape revolution.

How big is 172 million square feet? It’s the equivalent of all of Los Angeles International Airport and a chunk of El Segundo. Imagine every square foot of this circle yielding 42 gallons of water each year.

How big is 172 million square feet? It’s the equivalent of all of Los Angeles International Airport and a chunk of El Segundo. Imagine every square foot of this circle yielding 42 gallons of water each year.

Throughout Southern California public utilities are offering financial incentive to replace water-intensive lawns with more water efficient landscapes. Turf replacement in the Southland is so successful that (more…)

Drier, warmer, lower: DWP water export reduction likely

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

A superlative drought continues for California and the impacts are unprecedented. Wherever you live in the state you can’t easily ignore the feeling that winter has been mostly absent. Rain and snow have largely missed California four years in a row. Record dry and warm conditions have combined to produce the worst drought in the state’s recorded weather history. By some measures it’s the most acute in 1,200 years.

The central Sierra Nevada sits at the epicenter of the worst drought conditions. Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra remain at the boundary of exceptional and extreme drought categories as defined by the US Department of Agriculture. It has been so dry that Lee Vining and the Mono Basin have lost roughly the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of precipitation within the last three. So far this water year, we are running at 23% of normal with more than half of the winter past us. Record warm temperatures in the Sierra continue with increased sublimation, evaporation, and further dehydration of soils. (more…)

Warmest winter ever, again

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

California just logged its warmest winter in history by the widest margin in history. December 2014 through February 2015 hosted average temperatures soaring 5.9°F above the long-term mean. This record increase topped the previous record gain by 1.5°F.

The state’s last record warm winter was … all the way back in 2014. Before this year, December 2013–February 2014 was the warmest winter in California history by 4.4°F above average (a 0.8°F increase over the previous record, which was, until this year, the highest record increase).

California Average Temperatures December-February

Record high winter temperatures in California, December 2014-February 2015.

What about Lee Vining? We are still compiling the data, but it’s probable that Lee Vining tracked with the rest of the state. In February 2015 alone, 26 of 28 days brought well-above average temperatures to the town, typically reaching 6–24 degrees above average. For several consecutive days in February temperatures hovered at 67°F (a record high for February). Such extreme winter warmth rapidly melts snowpack while accelerating soil moisture loss in snowless terrain.

And what about the Sierra Nevada snowpack? Statewide it’s currently the lowest in history, sitting at 17% of average for April 1.

Mono Lake last year: Warmer, greener?

Saturday, March 7th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Each summer, Mono Lake undergoes a transformation. Brine shrimp flourish, alkali flies assemble, birds multiply, and the lake slowly transitions from green to tropical blue. Trillions of the endemic brine shrimp, Artemia monica, graze on algae in the upper water column, efficiently converting algal biomass into Artemia biomass. By early summer, following a peak in Artemia population, the upper waters shift from looking murky green to transparent blue. The process is so dramatic that the difference can be seen from space.

Brine shrimp typically graze Mono Lake free of algae each summer, yielding clear blue water. Photo courtesy of Russ Taylor.

Brine shrimp typically graze Mono Lake free of algae each summer, yielding clear blue water. Photo courtesy of Russ Taylor.

During the summer of 2014, for the first time that we know of, the lake did not turn blue. Like previous years, Artemia hatched in the late winter, slowly developed through the spring, and grew to seemingly robust numbers in May and June. Unlike previous years, the lake retained its greenish cast through (more…)

The IPCC Synthesis Report, record California temperatures and drought, and Mono Lake

Friday, November 7th, 2014 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

This last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest Synthesis Report (fifth report since 1990). It is a stark, sobering, and interesting read in context of the previous reports since scientific data and analysis support increasing certainty regarding climate warming, anthropogenic causes, strong and comprehensive impacts on natural systems, and “high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally” without urgent and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

California is currently experiencing it’s worst drought in history as the warmest year in history is about to be recorded. The long-term, increasing temperature trend for California, the ocean, and the rest of the world’s landmass is unequivocal.

October 2013 through September 2014 is the warmest 12-consecutive-month stretch in California history. January through December is 99% certain to be the warmest calendar year to date.

What does this mean for Mono Lake? The impacts this year are clear—the lake level dropped. Will this continue? Are the hydrologic models predicting future lake levels already out of date? Will climate change bring other, less obvious impacts? Are they underway now? Of the known changes, which ones can be mitigated? These are among the questions that the Mono Lake Committee is presently trying to answer.

What we do know is that there is no one else to take the lead. While US Forest Service and California State Parks may wish to be more responsive, their staffing and resources are strapped. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is only responsible for fixing the damage of past excessive water diversions. It will be up to all of us and the Mono Lake Committee to find solutions and to take action at Mono Lake as we cope with the impacts of climate change.

Greater Sage-Grouse forum in Lee Vining, November 13-14

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 by Bartshé, Education Director
Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

A simulcast of the International Forum on Sage-Grouse in Salt Lake City, Utah will be streamed live at the Lee Vining Community Center on November 13–14 from 7:00am onward. Greater Sage-Grouse will not be attending, but they will not be far away. These birds have been the focus of unprecedented conservation and management efforts, and our regional population of Sage-Grouse has been proposed for Threatened listing by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The forum is free to everyone in Lee Vining, and will be particularly of note to those who are interested or have a stake in the conservation of these iconic birds. You can check out the forum schedule for more details (note that start times in Lee Vining will be one hour earlier due to Pacific Standard Time). Jeff Hunter and the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership are hosting the forum free for the public.

The Mono-logue is powered by Wordpress
Subscribe to entries with RSS or by Email. Subscribe to comments (RSS).

Find us on Facebook

 

Follow us on Twitter

 

Print this page
print

search | contact us | site map 
 

MLC Logo

© 2017 mono lake committee
The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.


]]>