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Seasonal Update | The Mono-logue

‘Seasonal Update’ Category

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.

(more…)

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…)

Tioga Pass closed again

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) and Highway 108 (Sonora Pass) have closed again temporarily due to snow. Keep an eye on the road conditions and weather forecasts—the roads could reopen if warm and sunny weather returns. And as always in this drought, take a moment to celebrate more precipitation for Mono Lake….

Tioga Pass closing for this weekend’s winter storm

Friday, October 31st, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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A winter storm is predicted to bring snow and rain to the Sierra Nevada and Eastern Sierra tonight and into tomorrow morning, resulting in the closure of several mountain passes today. Highway 89 (Monitor Pass) and Highway 108 (Sonora Pass) closed at noon today. Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) will close as 6:00pm tonight, and the National Park Service will evaluate the road for re-opening on Sunday, November 2.

As always when you travel, check road conditions, make sure you have tire chains if you need them, and drive safely. Also, don’t forget to celebrate some precipitation for Mono Lake during this drought!

Fall 2014 Mono Lake Newsletter now available online

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Arya, Communications Director
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On behalf of the entire Mono Lake Committee staff I’m excited to announce that the Fall 2014 edition of the Mono Lake Newsletter is now available online! Every time we ready the Newsletter to go to press I write a short letter from the editor that appears on page 2—it’s a welcome message, and an introduction to the issue. Here’s how it goes this time:

_______________________________

Recently my friend John Anderson came by for a visit and said a surprising thing: “The lake is so high!” It was the only time I heard that this year. As a member of the 1979 California Gull research crew when the lake level was 6373.4 feet above sea level, his comment makes more sense, and was a good reminder to keep things in perspective here at 6379.3. (more…)

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