Algae Blooms at Lake Tahoe: TERC, Tech, and You

Brant Allen diving to sample periphyton

Event Date

Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge

Algae or phytoplankton are a naturally occurring simple plant that makes up the base of Tahoe’s (and any lake’s) aquatic food web. Recently, there has been a shift in Tahoe’s algae composition with cyanobacteria dominating algae collected from mid-lake. Though cyanobacteria are a normal part of most lakes' algae, under some circumstances, they can form harmful blooms that are toxic. High abundance or harmful algal blooms (HABs) of cyanobacteria can be toxic to humans and animals.

The initial thinking is that this shift may be from wildfire smoke inputs from the Caldor fire and has resulted in the closures of a few popular Tahoe beaches for the last two summers. To better analyze this shift and to create a more predictive and responsive program, UC Davis TERC has recently been working on growing its Nearshore Monitoring Network to utilize drones, helicopter aerial surveys, and other new technologies to create an extremely comprehensive algae monitoring and detection program.

Concurrently, at Clear Lake, a lake with consistent HABs, TERC is working to refine algal monitoring using remote sensing satellites, AUVs, drones, and ground truthing water sampling work to measure cyanobacteria blooms in new ways.

Throughout this ongoing research, TERC also seeks to crowd-source data from the Citizen Science Tahoe web app. Through Citizen Science, TERC engages visitors and residents with the research and technology used to monitor the growing algae issue at Lake Tahoe and seeks to create a more resilient community through education and outreach. 

In this unique Science Speaker Series, we have a panel of three TERC experts. Staff Research Associate, Brandon Berry who is consistently out in the field, in the water doing first person monitoring of the algae plaguing the nearshore of Lake Tahoe. PhD candidate Samantha Sharp in her last year of research looking at novel methods for detecting cyanobacteria in lakes using new satellite remote sensing technology. Finally, Education and Outreach Director Heather Segale will provide opportunities for anyone to get involved and explain how to easily make observations that contribute to the science of TERC.

Register here

In-person event details

Doors open at 5:00 p.m. Presentation begins at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets purchased in advance are $10 through EventBrite and free for students with a student ID. Tickets at the door are $15. Refreshments and a no-host bar will be available from 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. in the Mountainside Bar at Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge, 1850 W Lake Blvd, Tahoe City, CA 96145.

Enjoy dinner at Sunnyside either before or after the lecture where participants will be treated to 20% off their entire meal. 

For more information call 775-881-7560 or email

Can't make it in-person? Join us at the presentation date and time on zoom for a livestream of the presentation:

We are excited to partner with Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge as the location for the UC Davis TERC Science Speaker lecture series to be held at Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge in Tahoe City (directions). Free self-parking on-site and across the street.

Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge Logo

Drone monitoring of nearshore periphyton monitoring site.
Drone monitoring of nearshore periphyton monitoring site.