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Summer Temps Confirm Climate Change's Arrival in Nevada

Records show the water in Lake Tahoe is warming up quickly, which is throwing off the natural balance of the lake's ecosystem. (Andrew Toskin/Flickr)
Records show the water in Lake Tahoe is warming up quickly, which is throwing off the natural balance of the lake's ecosystem. (Andrew Toskin/Flickr)
August 30, 2018

RENO, Nev. – As summer nears its end, climate experts say this season shows that climate change is having a serious impact in Nevada.

July was the hottest month ever recorded for the city of Reno with 14 days over 100 degrees. August has been warmer than average, too.

Scott McGuire, cooperative program manager with the National Weather Service in Reno, says since the year 2000, there's been an obvious warming trend in the region.

"We've only set two record lows in the last 18-and-a-half years – actually, we didn't even set them, we just tied them – and we've set or tied over 170 record highs,” he states. “So, that's a pretty big change that's happening here."

A report this month from the National Wildlife Federation highlights the toll that the warming climate is taking on summer recreation nationwide.

It says in addition to increased wildfire danger and drought, the rising temperatures are affecting some of Nevada's most beloved places.

Lake Tahoe, usually known for its cold, mountain water, reached some of its highest recorded temperatures in July at over 70 degrees.

Geoffrey Schladow, director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center for the University of California-Davis, says when water at the top of the lake warms up, it doesn't mix as well with colder water below. He explains that can be disastrous for the fish and plants in the lake.

"What the lake depends on is mixing all the way to the bottom, in order to bring oxygen to the bottom, and that hasn't been happening for the last eight years,” he states. “And our modeling for the effects of climate change show that that's going to be happening less and less, going forward."

Lake Tahoe and Lake Mead in 2017 both experienced toxic algae blooms related to warmer waters.

McGuire and Schladow say consequences of warming environments are already occurring across Nevada, so they believe it's critical to do everything possible to slow climate change.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - NV