Spring snowpack a bigger predictor of lake warming than air temperature.
Scientists at the University of California, Davis, are taking the temperature — and other measurements — of lakes of all sizes and shapes throughout the mountains of California to see how climate change is affecting them and what, perhaps, can be done about it.
A study published this month in the journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters shows that, despite rapidly warming air temperatures, spring snowpack is the biggest predictor of summer warming in small Sierra Nevada lakes. The study examined more than 30 years of climate and lake temperature data at Emerald Lake, a long-term study site in Sequoia National Park. It was led by UC Davis with colleagues at UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside.
The researchers found that summer air temperatures at Emerald Lake are warming at a rate of 1.0 degree Celsius, or 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade.
“That’s huge,” said lead author Steven Sadro, a UC Davis assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and a member of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “That’s as high a rate of warming as nearly anywhere on the planet. It’s also consistent with what you’d find in a lot of mountain regions, which are warming at rates as high as those seen in the Arctic, in many cases.”
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