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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…)

Practice the new Chautauqua registration system today

Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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We’re excited to announce a brand-new registration system for the 17th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. You may recognize it if you’ve attended the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival or the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The new system makes it faster to sign up for trips and easier to register groups, all without needing a username or password.

This year’s Chautauqua has one hundred field trips to choose from, spanning a range of topics including birds, botany, butterflies, bats, art, and more! Photo by Elin Ljung.

(more…)

All 2018 Mono Lake Field Seminars posted online

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2018 Field Seminars is now available online hereRegistration opens at 9:00am on Thursday, February 1.

Summer and fall are wonderful seasons for exploring the Mono Basin on a Field Seminar. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

This year’s slate of 40 Field Seminars includes one-day, half-day, and multi-day options, and spans many topics: astrophotography, botany, mining history, butterflies, oil painting, basketry, woodpeckers, geology, fire ecology, and more.

We have brought back several popular workshops: (more…)

Mono Lake’s visible rise, November to November

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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We didn’t know it in November 2016, but the severe drought that had plagued Mono Lake and California for five years was nearly over. After record-setting winter precipitation and subsequent record-setting runoff last summer, Mono Lake had risen 4.2 feet by November 2017.

That difference in lake level is clearly visible in these satellite photos from the folks at Planet, most notably on the landbridge near Negit Island and the white “bathtub ring” around the lake’s shore. After tracking and celebrating Mono Lake’s rise from up close last year, it’s fun to see it in a big-picture view! (more…)

Lee Vining weather almanac: A new water year

Monday, December 18th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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A new water year began on October 1, and it follows the record water year of 2017 when 27.7″ of precipitation fell in Lee Vining. Given the increasing variability of California precipitation, a repeat performance of a wet year is unlikely. October 2017 concluded with 0.08″ of rain, well below the 0.83-inch 30-year average. Average temperatures ran very close to average for daily highs with overnight lows falling slightly below average.

Warm November view from Mono Lake.

Average low temperatures in November 2017 stayed above freezing for the first time on record. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

November left a more notable wake in the Lee Vining weather annals. Temperatures soared well above average and the month concluded as the second-warmest November overall, a small 0.8°F difference behind November 1995. The real measure of warmth was in terms of increasing overnight low temperatures. Average low temperatures in November eclipsed the 30-year record by over 2°F and averaged above freezing (34°F) for the first time. (more…)

It’s Christmas Bird Count week!

Thursday, December 14th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Whether you are a seasoned birder or new to the delightful joy of watching birds, you can help gather data for the Christmas Bird Count, one of the largest citizen science data sets in the world! Every December and January, thousands of bird enthusiasts across the world count individual birds in specific areas to get a general idea of the population shifts throughout the years.

An Audubon’s Warbler in winter plumage. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

The three local counts are coming up this weekend and next week:

Bishop CBC: Saturday, December 16
Contact Chris Howard by email.

Mammoth Lakes CBC: Sunday, December 17
Contact Santiago Escruceria by email.

Mono Lake CBC: Tuesday, December 19
Contact Kristie Nelson by email.

Do you want to volunteer where you live? The National Audubon Society has a stellar map to show you where all the count circles are and who to contact. If you’re not great at bird identification, you can help by taking notes and keeping track of numbers. You will be assigned to an experienced birder so you can learn a lot along the way.

The weather is looking cold and dry, so the counts will be accessible by hiking rather than snowshoes or cross country skis like in years past. Happy birding!

Timelapse video: Watch Mono Lake rise before your eyes

Friday, October 13th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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So far in 2017, Mono Lake has risen an astounding 4.5 vertical feet before leveling off in the past month. About 3 feet of that total lake rise occurred from mid-May to mid-August. Watch below for a quick 20-second timelapse showing the incredible lake rise this summer, or scroll down and see the full two-and-half-minute timelapse video.

(more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Tuolumne River ecology below Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with Jeff Holmquist

Saturday, August 26th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Molly Casey, 2017 Mono Lake Intern.

When considering the ecological effects of the Hetchy Hetchy Reservoir, we tend to think of the initial flooding of Hetch Hetchy Valley. But are there also ongoing ecological consequences downstream of the dam?

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Photo by Noel Morata.

This week’s Refreshing ‘Ologist, Dr. Jeff Holmquist, will compare conditions below the dam, above the reservoir, and in reference sections of the Merced River to help answer that question. Along with the ongoing effects of the reservoir, he will also discuss river-wetland linkages and the ways in which river flows have been manipulated in order to mitigate effects on wetlands. (more…)

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