Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory

Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory
Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory / photo by Lobsang Wangdu

With fully equipped and modern laboratory, housing, meeting, and computing facilities, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) serves as a major center for research in the Eastern Sierra. The site features a human-made experimental stream system consisting of nine meandering channels used for research on stream hydrology and ecology. Convict Creek flows year-round through SNARL, feeding the experimental system and providing a natural stream environment protected from grazing and other human impacts. Non-aquatic research is also supported and encouraged on the reserve’s pristine habitats, which include Great Basin shrubland and grassland, high desert riparian woodland, and riparian meadow. Another nearby NRS site, Valentine Camp, joins with SNARL to comprise the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserves (VESR).

Geologic Monitoring

U.S. Geological Survey-funded scientists monitor seismic activity in the Long Valley Caldera and carbon dioxide emissions around Mammoth Mountain.

Public Outreach

Environmental education programs for local elementary school students; K-12 summer school; public tours; short courses; and the Spring Seminar Series of lectures.

Regional Field Station

The reserve attracts users from all UC campuses, many out-of-state colleges/universities, federal laboratories and research programs; reserve manager consults on regional resource management issues.

Field courses

University courses using SNARL include botany, geology, environmental studies, and snow science, among many others.

Selected Research

  • Ecology of Mono Lake: UC research since 1976 on Mono Lake influenced a 1994 decision of the State Water Resources Control Board to raise the lake level, helping to restore its ecosystem; ongoing projects there include physical limnology modeling and monitoring of brine shrimp and alkali fly populations.
  • Sierran snowpack: SNARL scientists operate a snow laboratory on Mammoth Mountain; the National Science Foundation and NASA Earth Observing System Project fund ongoing studies of snowpack properties and snowmelt runoff.
  • Aquatic biology: Ongoing studies examine impacts of livestock grazing on stream ecology and effects of nonnative trout on Sierra Nevada lake ecosystems.

Special Research of National Significance

Microbial Observatory: Mono Lake, Collaborative Research: Microbial observatory at an alkaline, hypersaline, meromictic lake (Mono Lake, California); Ecology of viruses in an alkaline, hypersaline lake (Mono Lake, California)

Carole Blanchette
1016 Mt. Morrison Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Phone: 805-893-5698
Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory website

Mono County, eastern slope of Sierra Nevada; 13 km (8 mi.) east of Mammoth Lakes just off U.S. Highway 395.

Experimental stream complex; wet labs; controlled-environment room; radioisotope lab; offices; Page Center conference space; classroom; conference room; dormitory for 25; five houses with room for 24; high-speed internet; storage for long-term researchers’ equipment; Mammoth Mountain Snow Science Lab located nearby.

The reserve bibliography includes citations of journal articles, books, theses, art, and other works published about or based on activities conducted at the reserve.

Plant List
Long-term flow/temp records for Convict Creek; climate data; maps; bibliography of on-site research; synoptic collections; aerial photos; regional geographic information system (GIS).

On-site staff reserve manager, stewards, laboratory manager, administrative assistant, education coordinator, and teaching staff.

22.6 hectares (56 acres)

Regional: 1,250 to 4,012 m (4,100 to 13,163 ft)
Site: 2149 to 2160 mi (7052 to 7116 ft.)

25 to 38 cm (10 to 15 in.)/yr, most as snow.

Summer: 0 to 29 ºC (32 to 84 ºF)
Winter: -23 to 11 ºC (-10 to 52 ºF)
Dendra Weather Data

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