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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…)

Celebrate clean air with a discount on Mono Lake canoe tours

Friday, August 17th, 2018 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator
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The Ferguson Fire, which started burning on July 13, 2018 near the western edge of Yosemite National Park, is finally nearing full containment after over a month of hard work by firefighters and response crews. Yosemite Valley was closed for almost two weeks due to road closures and hazardous air quality, but the valley has officially reopened to the public. While the Ferguson Fire is still burning, it is 87% contained as of August 17 and air quality within the park as well as in the surrounding gateway communities has improved drastically.

Anna, Mono Lake Intern, prepares to lead a smoky canoe tour on Mono Lake. Photo by Alison Kaplan.

Here at the Mono Lake Committee we were lucky to have clean enough air in the mornings to run all of our scheduled canoe tours despite the generally poor air quality, but visibility was low and views of the surrounding mountains were scarce. (more…)

Mudslides close the June Lake Loop (Highway 158)

Saturday, August 4th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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On July 31 Caltrans closed Highway 158, the June Lake Loop, due to mudslides that occurred earlier that day. The closure remains in place and there is no estimated opening date.

On July 31, a short, powerful rainstorm brought mudslides and debris down on Highway 158, closing the June Lake Loop. Photo courtesy of Caltrans District 9.

The road is closed between Silver Lake and Grant Lake Reservoir, from roughly the Frontier Pack Station to the Aerie Crag parking area. Through passage around the loop is not available, but (more…)

Mud and rock slides in Lundy Canyon

Thursday, July 26th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Last Friday, July 20, torrential rain in Lundy Canyon caused several mud and rock slides, which closed the road west of Lundy Lake Resort. There is currently no vehicle access to the trailhead, and no estimated opening date for the road.

Looking west up Lundy Canyon from the top of the largest rock slide that occurred on July 20, 2018. Photo courtesy of Mary Ljung.

(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…)

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…)

2018 lake level forecast: Will Mono Lake rise or drop this year?

Friday, April 20th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In April, once a new runoff year (April 1 to March 31) has begun, the Mono Lake Committee forecasts what Mono Lake’s level is likely to do over the next year. And the answer? According to our forecast, Mono Lake is likely to drop a little less than a foot.

This graph shows the range of possible Mono Lake elevations for the time period of April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The “highest likely” and “lowest likely” projections are produced by Committee modeling using historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can reasonably be expected given current conditions. Mono Lake Committee graph (click to enlarge).

To forecast Mono Lake’s level for a whole runoff year, we read the lake level gauge on April 1 to get the starting point, and then factor the runoff forecast into the equation to predict what Mono Lake might do going forward. When we read the lake level gauge on April 1 together with staff from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power the lake was 6381.9 feet above sea level. As of April 16 the runoff forecast is 85% of average. Using those two data points, plus historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can be reasonably expected given current conditions, our modeling indicates that the most probable lake level for March 31, 2019 is 6381.1 feet above sea level.

Mono Basin snowpack increases to 76% of average

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Snow surveys conducted around every April 1st coincide with the average date of peak snowpack. This year, the surveys were completed at the end of March and revealed a large increase in snowpack over the previous month—from 50% of average to 76% of average!

Map by Robbie DiPaolo.

Map of snow survey locations compiled by Robbie DiPaolo. The Lee Vining Creek watershed above the DWP diversion dam and the Rush Creek watershed above the SCE powerhouse are outlined in red.

(more…)

Field Seminar registration opens for non-members March 1

Sunday, February 18th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2018 Field Seminars is online here, and registration opens for those who are not Mono Lake Committee members at 9:00am on Thursday, March 1st.

Learn about the fascinating volcanic history of the Mono Basin with Nora Livingston on a field seminar this summer. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

This year’s slate of 40 field seminars spans many topics: basketry, oil painting, mammals, moonlight photography, volcanism, mining history, Basque sheepherders, kayaking, and more. (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…)

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