© 2023 KVPR | Valley Public Radio - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. :: 89.3 Fresno / 89.1 Bakersfield
89.3 Fresno | 89.1 Bakersfield
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Scientists Discover What Makes Lake Tahoe Blue

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency newsletter Tahoe In Depth
Lake Tahoe is known for its color and clarity

Scientists have long thought that the blueness of Lake Tahoe was due to the lake’s clarity. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a new study shows that algae plays an important role.

For the past three years, UC Davis researchers have been measuring the degree of blueness in Lake Tahoe using a NASA research buoy. They compared those results with the lake’s clarity and found something surprising. 

Schadlow: “Clarity and blueness are controlled by very different things.”

Geoffrey Schladow is with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

Schadlow: “Clarity is controlled by very fine particles, dust and clay and silt washed into the lake. The blueness is controlled by algae.”

The less algae, the bluer the lake. Stormwater runoff carries nutrients that spawn algae growth. Schladow says that’s not happening in the drought which gives him hope for restoration efforts.

Schadlow: “What we’re seeing is how the Lake responds, we’re seeing its becoming bluer, it’s becoming clearer and that’s evidence that the strategies that are being proposed will actually work.”

The State Of the Lake Report also found that average surface temperatures reached an all time high, including the highest ever recorded during the winter.

Related Content