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TROL: Transparency Regulation of Oxygen in Lakes

We hypothesize that changes in water clarity related to extreme events threaten even the most pristine lakes of the world, but in fundamentally contrasting ways in different climate regions. Non-linear responses in particular may push lake ecosystems beyond critical thresholds that threaten water quality and aquatic habitat. Studies have connected warming air temperatures to increasing surface water temperatures, as well as shortening ice cover duration, and the negative impacts of nutrient loading from landscape disturbance are widely recognized. Yet we know little about how contrasting extreme events such as floods and droughts are altering water clarity, causing abrupt, ecosystem-level changes that have important consequences for water quality and ecosystem services. Data are particularly sparse during the periods of ice-cover and the all-important spring and autumn mixing periods, all of which are exhibiting as-yet poorly characterized changes in the seasonal timing of events and whose effects may accumulate among years far into the future. This project will deploy in situ, autonomous, high-frequency dissolved oxygen, temperature, and light sensors 12 months of the year at multiple depths in small lakes with protected watersheds to create a network to assess the potential for accelerated threats to transparency that lead to increased thermal stratification and oxygen depletion in protected catchments with little or no landscape disturbance.

Timeline: 
2017-11-17 to 2020-12-31
Project Working Group: 

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