Lake Tahoe looks just like this perfect oasis that hides a patch of crystal clear, blue water, surrounded by rich vegetation, the cleanest air you ever dreamed of and the most friendly mountain peaks one could ever imagine. A medium sized lake somewhere in a remote area of California hides a recently unveiled mystery: the clearest shade of blue one can see on the surface of a lake.
According to a new piece of research, Lake Tahoe doesn’t get its blue shade because the water is crystal clear. It seems that large masses of algae are responsible with the lake’s blueness, affecting the so called “blueness index”.
A team of research has embarked on a mission to measure the degree of blueness inside Lake Tahoe and they have come back with a surprising finding.
Davis Shohei Watanabe from the University of California has thought of creating a “blueness index”. The new measurement system helped researchers clarify the misconception of the lake’s color and clarity. The data used for measuring the “blueness index” is gathered from a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab research buoy and a special instrument that can capture light.
The index has not reached the dimension of objectiveness which allows for an advanced expertise but it can help “put a number on blueness”, as Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center declared.
Recent analysis performed by researchers is meant to gather together important details related to the structure of the area, as conservation efforts have lately been focused on water clarity, in order to restore Lake Tahoe to its original state. Human intervention has managed to slowly degrade the natural color, appearance and structure of the entire ecosystem. Lake Tahoe used to be extremely clear before the “building boom” happened back in the 60’s, when rapid development and new infrastructures have affected the lake to the extent of losing a high degree of its brilliance.
Levels of water clarity are influenced by sediment and blueness is controlled by algal concentration, driven in return by the level of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus available to the algae. If the levels of nutrients are low, the richness of algae is low as well and the lake becomes crystal clear blue.
Blueness and clarity are somewhat separate, according to the team of researchers. It seems that low levels of algae concentration are the ones to influence the rich blue shade on the surface of the lake. Clarity of water fails to contribute to the levels of blueness on the surface, although blueness used to be associated with clarity. This is the story behind Lake Tahoe’s blue color.
Image Source: fineartamerica.com