As the Caldor Fire nears full containment, the nearly two-month-old wildfire is starting to affect the clarity of Lake Tahoe.
Experts explain that tons of ash and fire debris have fallen into the lake and will remain there for a long period of time. The powdery residue will end up blocking more sunlight from shining down onto the water, causing algae to grow and cloud up the lake. Officials are trying to come up with a clean-up plan. “At Lake Tahoe, the water quality and clarity are declining due to particles in the water,” Professor of Biology Sudeep Chandra said. “This study is trying to address how much the smoke fertilizes the living particles versus how much of the smoke is just depositing nonliving particles, both of which cause the clarity to decline.”
18 of California’s 20 largest recorded wildfires have taken place in the past 10 years, the impacts of which have become increasingly relevant to the Tahoe Basin. The researchers expect to produce their initial findings in early 2022.