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Refreshing ‘Ologists: Effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems with Connie Millar

Sunday, September 9th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, September 12 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Connie Millar, US Forest Service Senior Research Ecologist, will be here to discuss the effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems. If you can join us, register here for this free program!

A pika near Virginia Lakes. Connie will be discussing her research on pikas, which are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. Photo courtesy of Ken Hickman.

Connie will provide an overview of her research into the responses of mountain ecosystems—in particular, pines and pikas—to changing climates. With information on how species responded to (more…)

Mono Lake Committee initiates study of Mono Basin glaciers

Friday, September 7th, 2018 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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Jace Shuler, a junior math major at Boston College, started a study of Mono Basin glaciers when he worked at the Mono Lake Committee this summer. This post was written by Jace.

When I tell people that I spent the summer studying and mapping the glaciers in the Mono Basin, the question I always seem to get is, “There are glaciers around Mono Lake?” The short answer is, yes, there are, and they are of great interest to the Mono Lake Committee.

The first step of my project with the Committee was to identify what exists in the area, both in terms of glaciers and data about those glaciers. From there (more…)

The story of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 by Janet, Volunteer Coordinator
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“Once upon a time, in a little mountain town on the edge of a big blue lake, a small group of people wanted to do something. They noticed that winter snows were less deep, and summer days were drier and hotter with forest fire smoke in the air. The group wanted to protect their beautiful lake, which depended on the snow to stay healthy.

“So the group decided to build a beautiful pavilion with a roof of solar panels, based on an idea from a town across the sea, to showcase how it is possible to have clean energy. It was a wonderful plan, but there was no money or knowledge to build something so grand.”

This is the beginning of the story of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion that was dedicated on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at Hess Park in Lee Vining.

Lee Vining’s Pioneer Solar Pavilion is a community-built gathering space that provides shade, electricity, wi-fi, shelter from wind, and information about local pioneer families. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The rest of the story is this: (more…)

Learn about the hot topic of wildfire in the Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra field seminar

Monday, August 27th, 2018 by Eric, Mono Lake Intern
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If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the role of fire in California, our upcoming field seminar, Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra, is the place to jump in. After a summer when wildfires have made news all over California and the western US, spend September 15–16, 2018 in the field with fire expert Malcolm North to learn about this powerful force. Sign up here.

The Marina Fire burns on the west side of Mono Lake in June 2016. The site of the Marina Fire will be one of the stops in this seminar. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

It has been a hot summer for wildfires in California, and while fires are vital to maintaining healthy forests in much of the western US, many modern fires burn differently than the fires forests evolved with. What is the current wildfire situation (more…)

Refreshing’ Ologists: Mono Basin glaciers with Jace Shuler

Saturday, August 18th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, August 22 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Jace Shuler will be presenting his findings from his undergraduate research project on glaciers in the Mono Basin.

Changes in the Kuna glacier (left) and the Koip glacier (right) between 1985 (top) and 2014 (bottom). Photos courtesy of Jace Shuler.

Jace will discuss the status of the four glaciers in the Mono Basin—Conness, Dana, Kuna, and Koip glaciers. He has been using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and aerial photos to examine how the surface area of the glaciers has changed since 1951, as well as working on how we can use the same tools to forecast the glaciers’ future. It’s important to educate both the public and policymakers about the effects of climate change on the Mono Basin, and Jace’s work contributes to that effort.

Saline sisters: A look at Mono Lake’s sister lakes

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 by Anna, Mono Lake Intern
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Mono Lake has many things that make it unique (like Artemia monica, a species of brine shrimp that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world), but there are many other saline lakes around the world that are unique in their own way. These lakes provide important bird habitat and support similar ecosystems—some of them even have tufa towers!

The dry white lakebed shows how much Lake Aibi in China has shrunk. Photo courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory; image by Robert Simmon and Adam Voiland using USGS Landsat data.

What sets Mono Lake apart, however, is an unrivaled level of protection and science-based advocacy. Many of Mono Lake’s sister lakes are imperiled due to agriculture, mineral extraction, climate change, and (more…)

Schedule for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists at the Mono Lake Committee

Friday, August 10th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Refreshments with Refreshing’ Ologists is a summer lecture series with scientists presenting their current work in the region.

Join us for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists on Wednesdays at 4:00pm at the Mono Lake Committee. Photo by Arya Harp.

• August 15Greater Sage-Grouse in Mono County: Population Rescue through Brood Translocation Techniques with US Geological Survey Biological Science Technician Mary Meyerpeter
• August 22: Tracking Glaciers of the Mono Basin with researcher Jace Shuler
• September 5Bugging Out: How Looking at Butterflies & Insects Will Help Conserve the Planet with biologist Kristie Nelson
• September 12Effects of Climate Change on Mountain Ecosystems: Science & Spin with US Forest Service Senior Research Ecologist Connie Millar
• September 26: Mono Basin Fisheries Project with State Water Board-appointed Lead Fisheries Scientist Ross Taylor (more…)

We are all connected: Dust from the Gobi Desert found in the Sierra Nevada

Thursday, July 12th, 2018 by Alexis, Mono Lake Intern
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Aerial view of Gobi Desert dust traveling over China west toward California. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Sierra Nevada is such a high and rocky mountain range that one might wonder how trees like Jeffrey pines and giant sequoias are able to grow. Dust collected in Yosemite National Park contains nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are not typically found in areas where there is a lot of granite rock. In work published last year, researchers reported that phosphorous and other nutrients travel to the Sierra Nevada via dust carried in the jet stream.

A team from UC Riverside and UC Merced conducted a study in Yosemite Valley to establish where the dust and minerals originated. After analyzing the dust they concluded that the (more…)

Moving toward a brighter future: Lee Vining begins construction of Pioneer Solar Pavilion

Thursday, July 5th, 2018 by Max, Mono Lake Intern
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Exciting times are shining on Lee Vining early this summer with the groundbreaking of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion at Hess Park. The pavilion will provide protection from the harsh Eastern Sierra sun and wind, while providing solar power and free wi-fi, as well as a space for outdoor events. Visitors to the pavilion will find a unique blend of past and future, with panels detailing historically significant Mono Basin pioneer families juxtaposed against modern solar panels generating power for Mono County, which will own and maintain the pavilion.

A volunteer posing with the fresh dirt of the pavilion’s groundbreaking. Photo courtesy of Janet Carle.

As well as providing shelter, educating visitors will be a main function of the pavilion. Interpretive panels on a variety of topics such as renewable energy, the Mono Basin pioneer families, Mono Lake, and upcoming events near Lee Vining will be a part of the structure. Additionally, a monitor will show real-time data of the energy being generated by the rooftop panels and the reduction of carbon emissions achieved. (more…)

The future of Sierra Nevada snow: Dr. Alex Hall on the climate future of the Sierra

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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What will happen to the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack as climate change impacts accumulate through the 21st century? This question is vital to both the ecological health of the Range of Light and to water delivery systems throughout California. And, it matters a great deal to Mono Lake and its many miles of tributary streams, which depend on Sierra runoff for their vitality.

A view of the Eastern Sierra from Virginia Canyon to Mt. Conness, including Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Forecasts of the future rely on complex climate modeling, and I talked with Dr. Alex Hall, Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, about the work he and his team have been conducting to produce actionable climate science. Dr. Hall heads the Center for Climate Science, where they have developed cutting-edge downscaling techniques to create geographically detailed climate projections for the Los Angeles area and the Sierra Nevada.

Geoff: Thanks for taking time to talk, Alex. You have just released a major report, Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada: California’s Water Future. What are the big takeaway messages?

Alex: Temperatures across the Sierra Nevada are warming (more…)

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