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Seasonal Update | The Mono-logue

‘Seasonal Update’ Category

Mono Lake brine shrimp, then and now

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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Artemia monica is the unique species of brine shrimp found only in Mono Lake. During the summer months, trillions of shrimp inhabit Mono Lake’s waters—enough to be a critical food source for millions of birds. Once winter begins to set in the shrimp die off, and the birds migrate on. A new generation of shrimp hatches in the spring, food for next year’s birds in the following summer. This process has repeated itself enough times and with enough consistency that all our favorite Mono Lake birds have figured it out and rely on the food supply.

Figure 14 (below) of the annual Mono Lake Limnology Monitoring Report shows the lake’s average abundance of adult Artemia per square meter water column for each month starting in 1982 and ending in 2013. You can see that Mono Lake’s adult brine shrimp are most abundant in summer, and if you’ve visited Mono Lake during the summer, you probably know some of the bird species that show up for the feast.

1982-2013 Shrimp

Figure 14: The average abundance of brine shrimp (per square meter of the water column) every month from 1982-2013. Note that adult brine shrimp are most abundant in summer. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Mono Basin February 2015 snowpack

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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The Mono Basin monthly snowpack surveys are underway for 2015, with February’s data in and March data being collected now. As many people might expect it’s not looking great, but not all hope is lost.

Caption caption

Mono Basin snowpack measurements over the last six years.

The Mono Basin snowpack is measured at five sites (Gem Pass, Gem Lake, Tioga Pass, Saddlebag Lake, and Ellery Lake), which are usually sampled in February, March, and April. The February 1st snow surveys found that the snowpack measured at those five locations amounted to 23% of average February snowpack (more…)

Unprecedented February wildfires ravage Eastern Sierra communities

Monday, February 9th, 2015 by Jessica, Office Manager
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Several communities in the Eastern Sierra have been suddenly and tragically affected by wind-driven wildfires that started last Friday, February 6.

A view of the Round Fire moving up the Wheeler Ridge on Friday night, driven by unusually strong winds. Photo courtesy of Jerry Dodrill.

A view of the Round Fire moving up the Wheeler Ridge on Friday night, driven by unusually strong winds. Photo courtesy of Jerry Dodrill.

South of Lee Vining, the Round Fire destroyed 40 residences and damaged five more in the Paradise and Swall Meadows area near Highway 395 north of Bishop. Fire crews and other rescue personnel rushed to evacuate residents and contain the fire, but because of high winds and the extremely dry, unprecedented February conditions, containment of the fire was (more…)

The Mono Basin’s backward seasons

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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As an almost rainless and snowless January comes to a close, one can’t help but feeling like the seasons are backwards this year. Lee Vining got 1.7 times more precipitation during June through September than it did since October 1st. Normally precipitation during those four fall-winter months is double the summer months (for an average ratio of about 0.5).

A view of the Tioga Pass Road on January 21, 2015 shows very little snow. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

A view of the Tioga Pass Road on January 21, 2015 shows very little snow. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Looking back at previous years, 1990–1991 also had a high summer to fall/early-winter precipitation ratio of 4.3—in other words, 4.3 times as much precipitation fell in summer as it did in fall/early-winter. Despite a “miracle March,” 1991 was one of Lee Vining’s driest years on record. 1997–1998 also had a high ratio of 1.5, but then it started snowing (like crazy) in February, and ended up being quite a wet year. Those two years pretty much bookend the options for this year—either it is going to start snowing soon, or it won’t.

Summer thunderstorms can be quite variable, so does this pattern match other precipitation stations? Cain Ranch data confirm this pattern with 1990–1991, however 1997–1998 fails. But the longer record at Cain Ranch allows other years to match: 2013–2014 (1.2), 1976–1976 (1.2), 1976–1977 (4.5), 1967–1968 (1.4), 1960 (1.3). These were all dry years, and most are among the driest years on record.

At this point in the year, with these backward seasons, it will be hard just to catch up to average precipitation for the winter.

Preliminary Eared Grebe count results from 2014

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Some preliminary results from the 2014 Eared Grebe surveys are in: 2014 will be the fourth year in a row with peak numbers of at least a million birds. Although the late-September grebe photographs are still being counted by Environment Canada’s Sean Boyd, the four other counts between mid-September and mid-November have been compiled. The peak abundance of Eared Grebes on Mono lake—about 1.2 million birds—occurred during the first of five 2014 counts, in mid-September.

Each fall, volunteer pilots and photographers capture  images of the entire surface of Mono Lake in order for researchers to count the Eared Grebes present. Photo by Arya Degenhardt with Aerial support by Lighthawk.

Each fall, volunteer pilots and photographers capture images of the entire surface of Mono Lake in order for researchers to count the Eared Grebes present. Photo by Arya Degenhardt with aerial support by Lighthawk.

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Save the date! Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles March 5, 2015

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 by Lily, Project Specialist
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Each winter the Mono Lake Committee hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles, and this year is no exception. The festival features new short films on natural wonders, conservation, inspirational stories, and outdoor adventure. Not only are the films fun and motivating, but the proceeds from the event go to the Committee’s Outdoor Education Center programs that bring youth from Los Angeles to visit Mono Lake and be inspired themselves.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles - March 5, 2015

Please plan to join us on Thursday, March 5 at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo from 7:00–10:00pm to support the Mono Lake Committee and enjoy an evening of beautiful and uplifting films. This fun community event is made possible by the support and attendance of our members, and contributions from festival sponsors (Patagonia, Klean Kanteen, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Orion Magazine, Clif Bar, EarthJustice), and our local sponsors (Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Chevron).

Ticket sales begin on February 5, and we’ll be posting festival updates on FacebookTwitter, and here on the Mono-logue.

Mono Lake bookstore sale: Gems from the past

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 by Barbara, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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ML Explorations & Reflections2Here at the Mono Lake Committee, if we have something wonderful, we tend to hold onto it. We guard our beautiful lake against excessive water diversions, against pollution, against anything that could threaten its unique ecosystem. And sometimes if we have anything at all that is precious, we tend to keep it close.

However, hanging on to what we love can occasionally be detrimental for our bookstore storage and also for you who love the lake, who love the Mono Basin and California outdoors, but may not know what we have tucked away. In an effort at spring cleaning, we are going through our storage and pulling out a (more…)

Happy holidays from the Mono Lake Committee

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Best wishes for a joyous and peaceful holiday season….

….and a happy New Year from the Mono Lake Committee.

Photos courtesy of Richard Knepp, Shawn Biessel, Joe Decker, and Matt Ludin.

Dry December so far

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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In the Mono Basin, the drought continues to press on, as severe as ever. Storms that drench the coast keep splitting apart as they hit the Sierra Nevada.

Storms dropped more December rain on San Francisco and San Jose than those cities have seen in decades. Two and a half feet of water fell on Mt. Tamalpais in the last three weeks and filled all of Marin County’s reservoirs. But in the Mono Basin, these same storms only dropped about half of the average December precipitation at Cain Ranch and a quarter of the average in Lee Vining. Aside from October 2011 and December 2012, Lee Vining hasn’t had a winter season month (October–March) with above-average precipitation since March 2011. That was almost four years ago. (more…)

Happy birthday to the sun!

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 by Barbara, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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Happy winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and a day that’s been celebrated for millennia with fire, candles, and other traditions.

The word solstice comes from two Latin words: sol, meaning sun, and sistere, to stand still. This is a day when the sun stands still in the sky. In ancient Rome, winter solstice was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis: Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Happy birthday, Sun! From yesterday, its lowest point and shortest day, the light is again reborn. (Thank goodness….)

The winter solstice sunrise at Old Marina. Photo by Barbara Ball.

In Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth’s Seasonal Rhythms through Festival and Ceremony, Richard Heinberg (more…)

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