Research vessel
Scientists in the UC-Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center’s research vessel check on a research buoy that collects data about Lake Tahoe. Credit: Karin Higgins/UC-Davis

About 100 miles east of Sacramento, California, as you drive on Highway 50, you come around a bend and suddenly Lake Tahoe comes into view.

Schladow: “This incredible blue body of water is there out in front of you, and it’s just the most unexpected sight to come across in the middle of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.”

Geoff Schladow directs the University of California Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. He says visitors to Lake Tahoe often admire its crystal-clear water. But the lake is losing its famous clarity. 50 years ago, you could see 100 feet down, now it’s more like 70.

One cause is silt and clay washing in from nearby development. But climate change is also a cause. As the lake warms, microscopic algae grow and reduce the water’s clarity.

If the water gets too warm, native fish could die off. And invasive species and harmful algae could flourish. And it’s not just Tahoe, either.

Schladow: “Lakes are warming at different rates but almost one hundred percent of them are warming.”

Tahoe is just one crystal clear example.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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