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; email@example.com; http://www.users.muohio.edu/willia85/.
Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences