Lake water color changes at Pyramid Lake in Nevada

September 4th, 2020 |

NOAA-20 VIIRS True-Color imagery of Pyramid Lake in Nevada, daily from 01 July through 03 September 2020

The animation above shows NOAA-20 VIIRS true color imagery of Pyramid Lake (The Paiute tribe maintains a Pyramid Lake Twitter Account: Link)  in western Nevada. The Lake was closed on 21 July 2020 because cyanotoxins released during a toxic algae bloom (link). The algae bloom is apparent before the lake closure on 21 July, as shown, for example in this Sentinel-2 image.  The color change due to the algal bloom is obvious between 01 and 20 July, as shown below.

The algal bloom was followed by a ‘whiting’ event during which calcium carbonate precipitates into the water (link with description).  On 1 August (below), that suspended calcium carbonate is apparent in far southern Pyramid Lake (Here is an image from 2 August, and here are photographs of the Lake from 5 August).  The discoloration spreads slowly north, covering the entire lake by mid-August.   The animation above shows swirls in both algae and turquoise waters that are related to surface currents in the lake.  The shimmery turquoise color remains as of 3 September 2020.  Check out VIIRS today daily into the future to see how the color changes.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Imagery of Pyramid Lake, times as indicated, between 1 July and 3 September 2020 (Click to enlarge)

Hat tip to Mike Stavish, SOO at WFO MFR for alerting us to this event!