Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

50 Arctic lakes show dramatic effects of climate warming

09.04.2003


“Bellwether” of what’s to come farther south, say Queen’s researchers

Dramatic clues to North American climate change have been discovered by a team of Queen’s University scientists in the bottom of 50 Arctic lakes.

Using innovative techniques that enable them to collect historic evidence from fossilized algae in lake bottom sediment, the researchers have found signs of marked environmental changes in a variety of lakes of different depths and composition, within a 750-km region bordering the northern tree-line. The changes are a signal of things to come in the rest of North America, say the Queen’s paleolimnologists.



“We’re seeing a significant, regional change in the ecology of these lakes over the past two centuries that is consistent with warmer conditions,” says Dr. John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and co-head of the university’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL). Dr. Smol conducted the study with Dr. Kathleen Rühland and student Alisha Priesnitz of Queen’s Biology Department.

“Because the Arctic is a very vulnerable environment and usually the first area of the continent to show signs of environmental change – often to the greatest degree – it’s considered a bellwether of what will happen elsewhere,” says Dr. Rühland. “These are important signals that all of us should be heeding: the lakes’ sedimentary records have tracked marked and directional ecosystem changes.”

The Queen’s study will be published this month in the international journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.

To reconstruct past environmental trends, the team used fossil markers (tiny algal cells) preserved in lake sediment. Sediment cores were collected by helicopter from the 50 lakes, in an area from Yellowknife, NWT, in the Boreal forest area towards the Bering Sea in the Arctic tundra. For each lake, they compared fossilized algae preserved in the top, most recent sediment layer with those from the bottom, pre-industrial layer dating back about 200 years.

They found that the aquatic habitat of today is much different from that of pre-industrial times. More fossils of the type that live in open water environments were found in the top (most recent) layer of sediment – an indication that these lakes have less ice cover and a longer growing season that would alter important lakewater properties such as light availability and the way lakes stratify, as a result of warming. This marked a major ecological shift in the lakes that coincides with a period of increased human industrial activities and emissions in more southern regions.

Earlier PEARL studies in the High Arctic tundra had indicated major changes in the different layers of fossils associated with climate warming. The new findings bring the effects of climate change closer to populated areas. “The logical extension was to see if tree-line lakes also show these dramatic changes, and this study confirms that the impact is even greater than previously documented,” says Dr. Rühland. “We believe that the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions, in the form of climate change, are already having a notable impact on the Arctic environment.”

As well as affecting plant and animal life in this region, melting permafrost and less ice cover are already beginning to have repercussions on human concerns such as transportation, housing, and even sovereignty issues.

Last year an entire Nunavik community was relocated by the Quebec government after melting permafrost caused houses to slide from their foundations. Other researchers have found evidence that ocean ice is thinning, which could have future implications for intercontinental transportation routes.

“Until recently, no one was reconstructing Arctic climates in this way, because the technology didn’t exist,” says Dr. Smol. “Now that we can, in essence, reconstruct the past through this indirect technique, we’re filling in gaps in our knowledge and finding answers to many ecological and environmental questions that have great significance for the future.”

PLEASE NOTE: Colour graphics of the modern and pre-industrial diatoms are available in JPEG format. To receive a copy of the Queen’s study, contact:

-30-

Nancy Dorrance, Queen’s News & Media Services, 613.533.2869
Lorinda Peterson, Queen’s News & Media Services, 613.533.6000 ext. 77559

Attention broadcasters: Queen’s now has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston fibre optic cable. Please call for details.

Nancy Dorrance | Queen´s University
Further information:
http://qnc.queensu.ca/story_loader.php?id=3e917778b9960

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The world's most powerful acoustic tractor beam could pave the way for levitating humans

22.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Siberian scientists learned how to reduce harmful emissions from HPPs

22.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Combination of Resistance Genes Offers Better Protection for Wheat against Powdery Mildew

22.01.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>