The Effects of Climate Change on Lake Tahoe, and Implications for Design of Best Management Practices

Team led by: John Reuter (U.C.Davis) and Robert Coats (Hydroikos Ltd.)

Our roles: a) Downscaling of two GCMs (PCM and GFDL) precipitation projections (through 2099) to SNOTEL stations located in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe. b) Participation iin the hydrologic analysis.

Client: USDA Forest Service, with funding from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

Project Timeline: 2009-2010


1. Evaluate how projected climate change might affect the clarity of Lake Tahoe water throughout the 21st century; and

2. Evaluate how projected climate change might affect the effectiveness of Best Management Practices.


The downscaled output from the GCMs was used to force the LSPC model (distributed hydrologic and water quality model of Lake Tahoe) and a Pollutant Load Reduction model (see schematic). The effects of projected climate change on the design requirements for BMPs related to water quality in the Tahoe Lake basin were analyzed. We analyzed projected air temperature, amount and type of precipitation, simulated stream discharge, loading of sediment and nutrients, BMP performance, lake mixing and water quality response.




Read the Final Report

PRESS coverage:

Article in the New York Times

Articles in the Reno Gazette-Journal: 11-17-2010 ; 11-23-2010 ; 11-30-2010 

Keep Tahoe Blue