By: Cameron Cornellier
Summary. California is the origin for many of the large wildfires that have been dominating headlines in the past few years. While the impact of these wildfires on the ecosystems where they occur can be devastating, new research is always being done to completely understand the effects of the fires. One of the newer wildfires, known as Caldor Fire, has been burning in California since August of 2021 and has had larger ramifications than simply burning through forests. The smoke and ash from the Caldor Fire has blown into the Lake Tahoe basin, which has polluted Lake Tahoe. The lake, which is famous due to its clarity, has become murkier due to particles of ash and ember that have fallen into the lake a result of the fires. As a popular tourist attraction, losing the famously clear water could potentially harm business around the lake. Additionally, the biological effects on the lake from the smoke is not fully understood, and the lake is being used as a case study to further understand how smoke, ash, and other particles impact the lake. Many endangered species call Lake Tahoe home, and the particle pollution in the lake could cause the natural ecosystem to become altered. Sunlight is being blocked by the smoke that hangs above the lake, which could kill plant life that needs photosynthesis to survive. Unfortunately, harm to Lake Tahoe will not stop after the forest fires are extinguished as rain in the region will cause ash-filled runoff into the lake, further filling it with particles. As more wildfires occur due to the changing of the climate, the problem that is occurring in the Lake Tahoe basin could happen to other lakes of the world. By understanding the effects that ash and smoke have on a body of water, we can prepare ourselves better when wildfires occur in other parts of the world.
Why we should care? As the climate of the world gets hotter, more wildfires will occur. By understanding how wildfires alter the ecosystem of a lake, we can better prepare ourselves in the future.
This article is interesting because it describes the scientific process that is being done on the water of Lake Tahoe in detail. By using marbles to filter the ash particles from the water, the researchers can determine the quantity and size of the particles. I think the article does a good job describing the entire situation as well as describing the research that is being done on the lake. It also touches on the League to Save Lake Tahoe, which is a group of people who focus on maintaining the clarity and cleanliness of the lake. I feel like they are an important group to bring up due to their prior understanding on how the ecosystem of the lake functions and it will be interesting to see what conclusions they come to after the experiments on the lake are finished.
Science in Action.
Dr. Sudeep Chandra is the Director of the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies, as well as the Director of the Global Water Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Sudeep Chandra is leading the team that is collecting the samples of ash falling into Lake Tahoe. He studies the restoration of declining aquatic ecosystems as well as the conservation of aquatic ecosystems, which would explain why he is leading the research on the Lake Tahoe wildfires. He also has experience working with the management of native and non-native species of animals, which is relevant to the aquatic ecosystem of the Lake Tahoe basin. Another key point of his research background is that he has an understanding on how water quality is altered when land changing events like mining, new human urbanization, and wildfires occur.