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« CRS InFocus Report: 'Climate and Security in the Middle East and North Africa' | Main | Elaine J. Hanford's Bulletin Boards: 1) Geoscience; 2) Environmental Science; 3) Coastal Zone Management - 17 January 2022 »

Sunday, 16 January 2022


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Michael Canpana

Many thanks, Stanley.

Michael Campana

Thanks, Paul.
I don't know the answer to your question. I am guessing he was Amy Simpson's immediate supervisor and was tasked with telling her to stop working.

Stanley Senner

In addition to the suspended Simpson report, there is an earlier report also worth resurrecting: Keister, Jr., G.P. 1992. The Ecology of Lake Abert: An Analysis of Further Development. Special Report, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Keister's Lake Abert analysis, including what was then a proposal to raise the height of the upstream dam, was prescient and still relevant today.

EJ Hanford, PhD.

The discovery of potash was reported in the Oregon Daily Journal in Portland in August 1911, with the potential for mineral wealth reported in September 1911. The first project to extract mineral salts from the lakes was proposed in January 1912 for the taking of salts of every kind. In 1913, the Desert Land Board granted permission to American Potash and Soda Company to build a diversion dam. The dam, initially intended to create an evaporation area, was promoted in March 1914 for the diversion of waters for irrigation agriculture to appropriate water that was ‘wasting into the lake.’

Waters are used for flood irrigation in both the Upper and Lower Chewaucan Marsh areas. Initially waters were diverted from streams, but as surface waters were depleted, ground water was pumped to irrigate -- with the expected consequent impacts on groundwater levels as the aquifer was over-pumped.

There is no shortage of causes, including politics, land grabs, and greed, that have historically led to the modern decline of Lake Abert.

Like any ephemeral lake in the Great Basin, Lake Abert has experienced episodic flooding and dessication. During Pleistocene glacial episodes, Lake Abert was a pluvial lake. The maximum Pleistocene highstand of Lake Chewaucan was at roughly 4520 foot elevation, creating Lake Chewaucan that was up to 375 feet deep and dovering roughly 480 square miles. During the Holocene Climate Optima, the Roman climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period, Lake Abert experienced dessication. Neoglaciation during the period of roughly 4,000 to 2,000 years ago was coincident with deepening of lakes in the several basins (including Lake Abert). Historically over the past 100 years, Lake Abert reached a high level in 1958, and was nearly dry for several years during the Dust Bowl era of 1930s, and again in 2014.

The Chewaucan Basin has revealed a long and rich history of Native American occupation, making it clear that the varied and productive habitats, especially wetlands, supported people for thousands of years, and new evidence even suggests they lived there at least as long ago as 14,500 YBP. During that interval, the local inhabitants experienced the deposition of volcanic ash from the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama about 7,600 years ago. This eruption coincided with the Altithermal Climatic Maximum, adding further stress to subsistence culture. Many cultural sites would have been abandoned during this time as people migrated to more favorable environments. Native people returned to and occupied the basin when climatic conditions were more favorable. They lived in this area until settlers arrived primarily from western Oregon and California in the mid- to late-1800s. By the 1870s, most Great Basin peoples had been displaced from their lands and tradition ways of living were no longer possible. During the 1870s and 1880s, cattle barons expanded their holdings by both honest and fraudulent means. Many of the Paiutes abandoned their homelands and reservations, fleeing to California and Nevada. Southeastern Oregon was further impacted by the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 and the Stock-raising Homestead Act of 1916.

Weather records (available since 1895 in Oregon) indicate that the early 1900s were marked by "wetter" conditions of of lower-than-average temperatures and higher-than-average precipitation. The Dust Bowl years of the 1920s were marked by higher-than-average temperatures and lower-than-average precipitation. Overall, this area is characterized by fluctuations of temperatures and precipitation over short time intervals. Average annual temperatures ranged from a high of 47.8 degrees Fahrenheit in both 1934 and 2015 to the lowest annual temperature in 1895 of 39.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Average annual precipitation ranged from a high of 23.79 inches in 1907 to a low of 8.56 inches in 1924. In Lake County, Oregon, for the period 1895 to 2021, the average annual temperature is 44.0 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average precipitation is 14.39 inches. The long-term temperature average over the past 11,000 years in the northern hemisphere is 59 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly 15 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the short-term (1895 to 2021) temperature average for Lake County, Oregon. Recall that the Little Ice Age occurred from the early 1300s through the mid 1800s. The first decade of the average annual temperature record for Lake County, Oregon, still reflects emergence from the Little Ice Age within the Holocene interglacial cycle.

Temperatures in the Holocene interglacial are not as warm as previous interglacial cycles, and previous interglacial cycles have lasted as long or longer than the Holocene. There is the potential for the Holocene interglacial to be followed by another glacial cycle. An abrupt change in climate would obviously have significant impacts upon not only the environment, but also the social, cultural and economic systems in which humans operate in the short term.

Bring on the next glacial cycle!

Paul Hagar

Policies like this one remind me of the plot from Goliath season 3 Was Steve Mrazik the decision maker, or just the messenger?

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