Across the vast landscape of the Earth, where are scientists likely to find the clearest signals of climate change so that they can predict future impact? According to Craig Williamson, Miami University professor of zoology and Ohio Eminent Scholar of Ecosystem Ecology, lakes and reservoirs are an important part of the answer.
Williamson and colleagues Jasmine Saros, University of Maine, Orono, and David Schindler, University of Alberta, Edmonton, provide highlights of recent research on lakes in “Sentinels of Change” a Perspectives article published in the Feb. 13 issue of Science magazine.
“Research on lakes in three different areas has really come together to show how important lakes are, in not only acting as sentinels to provide information on how climate change influences freshwater resources, but also acting as integrators by storing the signals of past climate change in their sediments,” Williamson said.
“In addition, it turns out lakes are real ‘hot spots’ of climate regulation,” Williamson continued. “For example, while lakes make up only about three percent of the surface area of the terrestrial landscape, they bury about four times as much carbon as the world’s oceans.”
Williamson and Saros were the lead organizers of an international American Geophysical Union Chapman Conference at Lake Tahoe in September 2008. Scientists and students from 18 countries examined the role of lakes and reservoirs as sentinels, integrators and regulators of climate change and discussed how to incorporate inland waters into global climate models.
Scientists at the conference noted that past modeling efforts have ignored the role of smaller lakes in global climate models. More than 90 percent of the estimated 304 million lakes worldwide are small (less than 0.01 km2) and shallow. “Including lakes and reservoirs in global climate models may shift estimates for many landscapes to greater sources of carbon dioxide,” Williamson said.
Given that freshwater is one of Earth’s resources most jeopardized by changing climate, being able to detect changes that are detrimental to water quality is critically important, according to the researchers. Sentinels of change include decreases in water levels in many lakes, decreases in the duration of winter ice cover by 12 days in the past 100 years, fish kills and changes in plankton communities.
“The outlook for lakes and reservoirs and the ecosystem services they provide is bleak,” state the researchers. “Yet records from these inland waters may provide the insights necessary to address the dual challenges of climate change and increased human domination and their effects on lakes and the larger landscape.”
Global lake observatory networks that monitor and integrate these signals are needed in combination with experimental studies, in order to decipher all the information contained in the waters and sediments of lakes, suggest the scientists.
The proceedings of the “Sentinels of Change” conference will be published as a special issue of the journal Limnology and Oceanography.
Williamson’s research on lakes includes work on alpine and subalpine lakes in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and Wyoming, the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Lake Tahoe in California, as well as lower elevation lakes in Pennsylvania and reservoirs in Ohio.
“One of the more notable studies that we have just begun is of some of the high lakes in the Andes on the border of Chile and Bolivia. We are working with NASA scientists in an attempt to understand life in extreme environments with some of the highest levels of UV radiation that have been observed on Earth, and in a region where climate change is proceeding at a rate that threatens lakes with drying up,” Williamson explains. “Another particularly interesting study is examining the role of changes in the UV transparency of the waters of Lake Tahoe and how this is allowing warmwater fish species to invade and spread in the lake.”
Craig Williamson may be contacted at 513-529-3180; Skype: craig.e.williamson in Oxford, United States; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.users.muohio.edu/willia85/.
Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation
Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences