Climate change linked to drying lakes in Canada's subarctic region

Nov. 27, 2013 at 3:37 PM
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QUEBEC CITY, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Shallow lakes in Canada's subarctic regions are drying up at a rate not seen in 200 years as climate change has brought reduced snowfall, experts say.

Researchers from several Canadian university, reporting their studies in the journal Geophysical Research Letter, said they came to this conclusion after studying 70 lakes -- most of them less than a yard deep -- on relatively flat terrain in the province of Manitoba and the Yukon Territory.

The problem, they reported, is mainly caused by a lack of melt water from the reduced snowfall.

"With this type of lake, precipitation in the form of snow represents 30 percent to 50 percent of the annual water supply," said study lead author Frederic Bouchard, a postdoctoral fellow at Universite Laval in Quebec City.

The kind of desiccation seen by the researchers is without precedent in two centuries, they said, as analyses of the remains of phytoplankton accumulated in lake bed sediment show the lakes have maintained water balance for 200 years.

If the trend of dry summers and less snowy winters is ongoing, many of the subarctic's shallowest lakes could dry out completely, the researchers said.

"It's difficult to predict all the repercussions of this habitat loss," Bouchard said, "but it's certain that the ecological consequences will be significant."

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