Pollutants released into the air are transferred by wind from their place of origin to other areas. These pollutants include nutrients and fine particles will travel great distances and settle on land and water. This process, known as atmospheric deposition, contributes about 55% of the total nitrogen, 15% of the total phosphorus, and 15% of the total fine particles (<20µm) all of which impact Lake Tahoe's clarity.
Monitoring of atmospheric deposition is important for understanding its role in degradation of the lake and for use in watershed management. In order to monitor the contribution of atmospheric deposition to Lake Tahoe, TERC has established a mid-lake monitoring site. Approximately every 10 days, TERC researchers exchange a bucket atop a large research buoy located near the middle of the lake. The bucket is partially filled with deionized water and collects atmospheric depositions that occur with rain, snow, and "dry" deposition of gaseous and particulate material. At the end of the collection period, the water is analyzed at the TERC labs to estimate atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and phosphorus to the lake surface.
Funding and support: Tahoe Regional Planning Agency