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Monitor Scientific Weather Stations on the Web

TitleMonitor Scientific Weather Stations on the Web
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2005-01-11
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #147 - "Monitor Scientific Weather Stations on the Web" (Air Date: Dec. 12, 2005).
SubjectMeteorology -- Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif and Nev)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2006-02-15
RelationWindows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 147 - Scientific researchers measure the clarity of Lake Tahoe water every ten days by submerging the Secchi disk into the lake to see how deeply they can submerge it and still see it. They also collect water quality samples in streams and in the lake. Another very important tool used in their lake research is weather data. Seasonal changes in solar radiation cause variations in water temperature, which in turn drive lake currents. These changes can cause the lake to mix from bottom to top during the winter. This mixing helps to keep sediment suspended in the water and contributes to loss in water clarity. To collect meteorological data, UC Davis and NASA operate 12 weather stations around and in Lake Tahoe. Six are located on piers, and six are on buoys in the lake. "The meteorological information that we gather is the backbone of what we do, " says Geoff Schladow from UC Davis. "By analyzing the data, we can understand what happens in the lake. We can explain how pollutants are transported across the lake and understand why the clarity changes day to day. These models are driven by meteorological data." Schladow, who has been studying Lake Tahoe for the last eight years, also notes that, "We once thought that plant nutrients in the lake were the greatest problem, but in the past few years we started finding that fine sediment has a larger effect on clarity." Since the buoys communicate with remote sensing satellites, Schladow and his colleagues can map temperature changes across the entire lake, making it possible to understand lake circulation and its effect on the transport of fine particles. UC Davis has posted data from its REMOTE Meteorological stations on the Web at The site has information on wind speed, wind direction, wind gust, air temperature, air pressure, radiation, precipitation, relative humidity, and water temperature. The data is also online at and Graduate students and researchers can use the REMOTE Web site to study the physical processes that contribute to Lake Tahoe's unique clarity and build computer models to categorize and understand these processes. Using the data, students can build their own models in the classroom, and see firsthand the dynamic conditions that exist in subalpine environments. In addition to the UC Davis stations, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) maintains an automated SNOTEL system that collects and relays snowpack and related climatic data to their Web site, The U.S. Geological Survey also posts weather, stream flow, and water quality data, as well as digital maps and orthophoto quadrangles, on their Lake Tahoe Data Clearinghouse Web site, Another valuable Web site for scientific information is the Tahoe Integrated Information Management System (TIIMS) site, This is an interactive Web site being developed to house and disseminate information about Lake Tahoe Basin planning and restoration efforts. TIIMS also contains a valuable public outreach component that offers educational materials, photographs, and information on how to become involved in Lake Tahoe Basin restoration efforts. These Web sites provide access to some of the near-real-time data acquired from scientific monitoring stations. The Coast Guard and other boaters can check lake conditions, such as wind speed, air temperature and water temperature, to determine which gear to wear, for example. This online information is updated at least hourly. You too can go online anytime to decide whether to go skiing, hiking, boating, or just stay inside by the fire. You can make use of Tahoe's 12 advanced meteorological stations for detailed information beyond what you find on the Weather Channel.

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