With one degree average air temperature increase, the ice-free period for the lake has increased substantially adding to changes in the lake ecosystem. Photol I Lehnherr et al

One degree Arctic temperature increase causes big lake change


Scientists working in the high Arctic found that a huge lake is undergoing some profound changes as a result of a mere one degree increase in the average Arctic air temperature.

Martin Sharp (PhD, FRSC) is a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta


Professor Sharp was among the group on interdisciplinary scientists who began studying the lake and its wider drainage and ecosystems studying aspects from glaciology to freshwater ecology.

Martin Sharp (PhD FRSC) from the University of Alberta, was one of the scientists studying the surprising changes in a huge Arctic lake

Their work was published in the science journal Nature Communications under the title “The world’s largest High Arctic lake responds rapidly to climate warming” (open source available HERE)

Lake Hazen on Ellesemere Island, at 78 km long by 12 km wide is the biggest high Arctic lake is one of three huge lakes above the Arctic Circle, including Lake Inari in Finland, and Lake Taymyr in Russia.

Red balloon shows Lake Hazen , Image-Google maps

Home to a large population of Arctic char, the lake is traditionally ice-covered about ten months of the year.

All that is changing, and rapidly.

Location of the Lake Hazen watershed and changes in glacier surface temperatures. Changes in summer glacier surface temperatures (°C y−1) were quantified for the months of June, July and August for the period 2000–2012. The white line delineates the boundaries of the Lake Hazen watershed, and the glaciers within it. The black line delineates the boundary of Quttinirpaaq National Park, Canada’s most northerly national park Image: I Lehnherr et al

While it is clear that the Arctic climate is warming faster than elsewhere on Earth, it had been presumed that such a large body of water would take much longer than smaller water bodies to show effects of the warming.

Although seemingly slight, the temperature increase has resulted in significant meltwater increase from the glacial snowpack flowing into the lake, and changes is this huge body of water.

Even the slight average temperature increase has meant a rapid melting of glaciers into the lake and triggered other feedback loops. PHOTO- I Lehnherr et al

This has meant an increase in fine sediment floating in the water increasing turbidity.  Evidence shows that this appears to be adversely affecting the fish as the Arctic char’s visibility is reduced and so their ability to hunt prey.

In addition, less ice and longer periods of open water in the summer has meant an increase in light penetration into the lake. That in turn promotes an increase in plankton and algal blooms also dramatically changing the lake ecosystem.

Thus several different studies have become interrelated to see how each is affecting the whole.

Martin and the others scientists in this interdisciplinary exploration of Lake Hazen speaks to the big-picture perspective. He says as scientists, they tend to focus only on their particular field.

He says this study has has shown the need to approach questions of climate change from a focus on the whole watershed system rather than examining separate and individual subsystems.

Categories: Environment, International
Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.