Subarctic lakes drying up at fastest rates since last 200 years
Washington: A new study suggests that subarctic lakes are drying up at a rate that has not been witnesses in 200 years.
The decrease in snowfall observed in recent years in Canada`s subarctic regions has led to worrisome desiccation of the regions` lakes.
This is the conclusion arrived at by researchers from Universite Laval, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brock University and the University of Waterloo.
Researchers came to this conclusion after studying 70 lakes near Old Crow, Yukon, and Churchill, Manitoba. Most of the lakes studied are less than one metre deep.
According to the analysis, more than half of those located on relatively flat terrain and surrounded by scrubby vegetation show signs of desiccation.
The problem stems chiefly from a decline in meltwater; for instance, from 2010 to 2012 average winter precipitation in Churchill decreased by 76 mm compared to the averages recorded from 1971 to 2000.
The drying of some lakes, which first became visible to the naked eye in 2010, was even more pronounced in summer 2013.
"With this type of lake, precipitation in the form of snow represents 30 percent to 50 percent of the annual water supply," study lead author, Frederic Bouchard, a postdoctoral fellow at Universite Laval`s Department of Geography and the Centre for Northern Studies, said.
The kind of desiccation seen by the researchers is without precedent in 200 years.
Isotopic analyses conducted on the remains of phytoplankton accumulated in lakebed sediment show that the lakes have maintained water balance for 200 years. This stability was abruptly disrupted a few years ago.
The study is published online in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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