Air Quality

Air pollutants pose threats to health of humans and forests at Lake Tahoe as well as to the clarity of the lake itself. Research is underway to evaluate these impacts and develop appropriate treatments.

“Breathing Lake Tahoe’s fresh, pine scented air is amazing. However, due to the geographic nature of the Lake Tahoe Basin, we are more sensitive than other areas to air quality impacts. Higher pollution levels are caused by temperature inversions (which cause the air pollution to stay close to the ground and lake) and non locally generated pollution carried in by winds during the warmer months from the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area into the Basin. Given the beauty of the Tahoe area, millions of visitors flock to the region every year. This surge of guests results in significant pollution from both resident and non-resident vehicles” — Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Researcher Profiles


Zhu, D., Kuhns, H. D., Gillies, J. A., Etyemezian, V., Brown, S., & Gertler, A. W. (2012). Analysis of the effectiveness of control measures to mitigate road dust emissions in a regional network. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment17(4), 332-340.

Zhu, D., Kuhns, H. D., Gillies, J. A., Etyemezian, V., Gertler, A. W., & Brown, S. (2011). Inferring deposition velocities from changes in aerosol size distributions downwind of a roadway. Atmospheric Environment45(4), 957-966.

Kuhns, H., Zhu, D. D., Gillies, J., Gertler, A., Cliff, S., Zhao, Y., … & Long, J. W. (2010). Examination of dust and air-borne sediment control demonstration projects. Prepared by Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV, for USDA Forest Service Southwest Research Station. Berkeley, CA.

Engelbrecht, J., Gertler, A., VanCuren, T., & Long, J. W. (2009). Lake Tahoe Source Attribution Study (LTSAS).

Zhu, D., Kuhns, H. D., Brown, S., Gillies, J. A., Etyemezian, V., & Gertler, A. W. (2009). Fugitive dust emissions from paved road travel in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association59(10), 1219-1229.

Zielinska, B., Bytnerowicz, A., Gertler, A., McDaniel, M., Ahuja, S., & Burley, J. DISTRIBUTION OF OZONE AND OZONE PRECURSORS IN THE LAKE TAHOE BASIN, USA.

Gertler, A. W., Kahyaoğlu-Koračin, J., Cahill, T. A., & Reuter, J. (2007). OOS 35-7: The contribution of atmospheric pollutants to declining water clarity in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Mazzoleni, L. R., Zielinska, B., & Moosmüller, H. (2007). Emissions of levoglucosan, methoxy phenols, and organic acids from prescribed burns, laboratory combustion of wildland fuels, and residential wood combustion.Environmental science & technology41(7), 2115-2122.

Benson, L., M. Kashgarian, R. Rye, S. Lund, F. Paillet, J. Smoot, C. Kester, S. Mensing, D. Meko, Lindstrom, S. (2002). Holocene Multidecadal And Multicentennial Droughts Affecting Northern California And Nevada. Quaternary Science Reviews 21(4-6):659-682. Online Article (UNR access only)

JoTarnay, L.; Gertler, A. W.; Blank, R. R.; Taylor, G. E., Jr. (2001). Preliminary Measurements Of Summer Nitric Acid And Ammonia Concentrations In The Lake Tahoe Basin Air-Shed: Implications For Dry Deposition Of Atmospheric Nitrogen. Environmental Pollution 113:145-153.

hnson, D. W.; Susfalk, R. B.; Gholz, H. L.; Hanson, P. J. (2000). Simulated Effects Of Temperature And Precipitation Change In Several Forest Ecosystems. Journal of Hydrology 235:183-204.

Mensing, S. A. (2000). Holocene Vegetation And Climate Change In The Tahoe And Pyramid Lake Watershed, California/Nevada. Abstracts with Programs – Geological Society of America 32(7):403.

Datta, S., L. L. McConnell, J. E. Baker, J. LeNoir, J. N. Seiber. (1998). Evidence For Atmospheric Transport And Deposition Of Polychlorinated Biphenyls To The Lake Tahoe Basin, California – Nevada. Environmental Science & Technology 32(10):1378-1385. AbstractOnline Article (UNR access only)

McConnell, L. L., J. S. LeNoir, S. Datta, J. N. Seiber. (1998). Wet Deposition Of Current-Use Pesticides In The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, California, USA. Environmental Toxicology And Chemistry 17(10):1908-1916.

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