Despite what some media outlets have been saying, Lake Tahoe’s color blue does not come from algae. Rather, the blue hue of Lake Tahoe comes from the lack of algae. Confused yet? Yes? Well, let me further explain the problem.
Lake Tahoe is famous for its blue color which comes in a combination with a stunning clarity that the water has. These two traits have made it a landmark of the country and one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire U.S. This much is true and undeniable. Yet, the two qualities have to do with totally different things.
It would come as natural that, the bluer a lake is the clearer it becomes, right? Wrong.
At least, according to Lake Tahoe, this is not the case. But hey, let’s not be prejudiced, right? I mean, if the lake wants to be blue and less clear, then clear and less blue alternatively, why should we judge it? It is still a great lake. And it is amazing.
A recent research made in a collaboration between UC Davis and researcher of the Laval University of Canada, and of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA has shown that there is an innate difference between blueness and clarity.
The lead scientists involved with the study, Shohei Watanabe, says that they have been going about the problem of restoring these qualities the wrong way. That is, they thought that if they made the lake clearer it would automatically get bluer.
So, they brought a research buoy and started gathering data right from above the lake with hyperspectral radiometers to see what the connection was between the two qualities. What they found was that the bluer the lake got, the less clear it became, and vice versa.
The science says that clarity has everything to do with the particles that come from urban one, whole the blue color is indeed connected with the algae concentration. But not in the way some have advertised it. On the contrary: the less algae there is in the lake, the bluer it becomes. This usually happens during summer, strangely, the period in which the most tourists choose to visit.
So hey, it’s as if Lake Tahoe is, in a way, applying make-up so that it appears more beautiful in all these gorgeous photos of it that people have spread all over Google search.
Now, although there have been millions spent on finding a solution, the scientists say that they are finally on the right track, and that they have finally understood exactly how the lake functions.
Image source: jpl.nasa.gov