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The Mono-logue » Climate

‘Climate’ Category

Learn more on a Mono Lake Committee field seminar

Monday, August 7th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Have you ever wanted to learn more about the birds that migrate through the Mono Basin, experience Mono Lake by moonlight, learn about the ecosystem impacts of recent fires, or find the best places to see the aspen leaves turn gold in the fall? Mono Lake Committee field seminars offer something for everyone—whether you’re just here for a short time and want to spend a half day with an expert instructor or if you’ll be here longer for one of our three-day seminars. There are still over 20 field seminars you can register for through October. Read more about all the seminars that still have space below.

August

There are still over 20 field seminars you can register for through October, including Geology of the Mono Basin with Greg Stock. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

(more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Restoring carbon in Tuolumne Meadows with Lydia Baldwin

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Ever wonder about the carbon storing potential of Tuolumne Meadows? If you have, you’re not so different from our researcher for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Come listen to Lydia Baldwin present her research in Tuolumne Meadows on Wednesday August 9 at 4:00pm to learn more!

Tuolumne Meadows in spring 2015. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Wet meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada that were historically disturbed are currently losing both soil-water holding capacity and the ability to store carbon. These wetlands formerly functioned as sinks of carbon dioxide, but now they could act as significant contributors of CO2 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the maintenance and addition of carbon to soil can also enhance its capacity to hold water. This refreshing ‘ologist is testing whether the reestablishment of a sedge-dominated community at Tuolumne Meadows, a high-elevation wet meadow in Yosemite National Park, will restore the meadow to a carbon-accumulating ecosystem.

Join us to hear Lydia explain how she monitors gross primary production and plant respiration to create a model of growing season carbon dynamics to determine if these treatments increase the meadow’s carbon storage. Be ready to learn and ready to eat because admission and snacks are both free!

Mono Lake Committee goes net-zero with solar

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In 2010 the Mono Lake Committee started the process of converting to solar power with nine solar panels installed on the roof of the “ice house” office building, and then added an additional 33 panels to the roof of the bookstore building in 2012. We also took a number of conservation measures, such as switching to LED bulbs in the bookstore, and have been monitoring our usage carefully. By 2016 we had completed our big conservation steps and reduced our annual grid power demand by over 80%.

Despite these reductions, we had a goal to generate all the power needed for the bookstore and offices right here on the property. In late June 2017, Sierra Solar installed 16 more panels, and now that the grid-intertie has been completed, we are expecting to achieve net zero power demand on the grid on an annual basis!

Four panels fit on the canopy over the main bookstore doors, generating power and providing visitors with a visual example of our commitment to sustainable energy. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Most of the Committee’s solar panels are largely invisible to members and visitors since they’re atop the bookstore and ice house office roofs. We asked Jim at Sierra Solar to check (more…)

Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentations return with avalanche forecaster Sue Burak

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us for this summer’s first Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation, next Wednesday, July 26 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery!

While clearing the snow that fell on Tioga Pass Road this past winter (pictured), Caltrans was lucky to have hydrologist Sue Burak provide her expertise to help with avalanche training and assessments. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Come hear hydrologist Sue Burak give an inside look at the work of an avalanche forecaster, the science behind the forecasts, and the headaches of an avalanche forecaster during a winter when nature put the hammer down in a presentation entitled “Atmospheric Rivers Bring It On: Big Storms & Big Avalanches in a Record-Breaking Winter.” Admission is free and there will be free snacks! (more…)

Mono Lake rose a record amount in June 2017

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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Over the past winter, the Mono Basin received record levels of snowfall—estimated runoff was at 206% above average for Rush and Lee Vining creeks at the end of May. According to ASO Principal Investigator Dr. Tom Painter, over a three-week span during January the Sierra Nevada received more water than the entire Colorado River basin receives in an average year. In the first week of July Saddlebag Lake Resort reported 12 feet of snow still on the ground—that is a lot of snow for July.

Mono Lake’s shoreline on June 3, just as high volumes of snowmelt were beginning to flow down the tributary streams to the lake. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo. (Comparison photo after the jump!)

With spring in our pocket and summer upon us, the time has come for warmer weather, and Mono Lake has been at times rising a twentieth of a foot per day. This added up to (more…)

Free patio activities at the Mono Lake Committee

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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We are excited to announce that we are offering free educational interpretive programs and activities on the front patio of the Mono Lake Committee, Tuesday through Saturday at 11:00am. We will explore topics such as how the Mono Basin formed, bird adaptation, Mono Lake’s changing habitats, following animal tracks, and we’ll also make recycled crafts.

Join Mono Lake Intern Charlotte on the patio to learn about volcanoes and more local geology! Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Our forming the Mono Basin program will focus on the different types of rock in the Mono Basin. It will introduce visitors to the varied landscape of the Mono Basin and what makes it so unique. Join us for a chance to make your very own tufa! (more…)

Seminar spotlight: High Country Plants & Habitats—how are they coping with climate change?

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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After an extraordinarily wet winter, this will certainly be an exciting year for wildflowers. We’ve already been delighted with the number of blooms in the Mono Basin and as the snow continues to melt at the higher elevations, there will be so many more to enjoy.

Join instructor Ann Howald for her field seminar High Country Plants & Habitats July 28–30. Photo by Robert Di Paolo.

Come join renowned botanist Ann Howald for her field seminar High Country Plants & Habitats, which will have a special focus on the ways high-elevation plants and animals of the Mono Basin are affected by climate change, now and in the future. During this field seminar, Ann will take you to sub-alpine meadows and forests, shores of sub-alpine lakes, streams that cascade toward Mono Lake, and natural rock gardens. (more…)

Counting snowflakes—all of them: Talking with Dr. Tom Painter about the Airborne Snow Observatory

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Just how much water is contained in the Sierra Nevada snowpack? NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with the California Department of Water Resources and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, have developed the high-tech Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) to answer that question with greater precision and clarity than ever before.

Using a plane with an imaging spectrometer and a precise LIDAR measurement system, ASO scientists can calculate how much water is contained in every square meter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy of Tom Painter, NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Flying out of nearby Mammoth Lakes, a plane equipped with an imaging spectrometer and an incredibly precise LIDAR laser measurement system has been gathering vast quantities of data that allow scientists to calculate how much water is contained in every square meter of snowpack in the high Sierra. Knowing how much water is stored in the snowpack and waiting to flow down Rush Creek, for example, is incredibly valuable. The details of how ASO works are fascinating and the big-picture implications for Mono Lake and all of California water management are exciting. I talked with ASO Principal Investigator Dr. Tom Painter in May during a break in his schedule between flights, project development, and a roster of presentations worldwide. (more…)

Record winter snowpack melt underway

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Mono Lake, and all of us here at the Mono Lake Committee, have just been through the biggest winter on record. It is an abrupt and welcome end to drought conditions (though not to all the effects of the drought), made all the more enjoyable by the way it crept up unannounced and surprised us with its intensity.

So much snow arrived in the Mono Basin this winter that even ephemeral streams far east of the Sierra flowed with water this spring. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Stories abound of Highway 395 being closed for days, snow blanketing every facet of the Sierra Nevada crest, and backcountry snowfields that measure taller than any building in Mono County. Speculation about an opening date for Tioga Pass—certain to be among the latest ever—is a popular springtime guessing game in town.

So what does it all mean for Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and the operation of the Los Angeles Aqueduct? Here’s the exciting outlook:

Mono Lake on the rise

With a deep snowpack fueling runoff that is forecast at 206% of average, Mono Lake is expected to rise (more…)

Charting weather extremes and understanding climate change impacts

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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A wet winter has brought needed relief to a drought-stricken Mono Lake. However, a glimpse at Lee Vining weather data reveals that predictions about climate change in California and the Sierra Nevada are becoming real.

January 2017 set a record for wettest month in Lee Vining’s weather data history: 11.23 inches of precipitation. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Warming temperatures, along with more extreme and less-frequent precipitation, are reflected in our local weather. The record-setting drought of the last five years still casts a shadow across the Mono Basin. Multi-year impacts to the watershed and ecosystem have accumulated due to record high temperatures, remarkably low runoff, and wildfires. As climate forces further change, monitoring, assessment, and adaptation will be critical to the future restoration and protection of Mono Lake. (more…)

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