Carbon-climate interactions in hard-water lakes

Hard-water lakes comprise over half of the volume of inland waters worldwide, but our understanding of carbon dynamics is relatively little studied in these systems. Our work has shown that hard-water lakes are strongly regulated by inorganic carbon loading from the catchment, and that negative feedback mechanisms, whereby CO2 uptake increases as the climate warms, are more prevalent. I am interested in developing a mechanistic understanding of how climate change affects lake carbon processing across many different types of lakes through variations in the climate parameters of Energy flux (e.g. temperature) and mass flux (e.g.precipitation). Understanding the interplay between carbon and climate in inland waters is critical in projecting the future of climate change in Canada and across the globe.

Katepwa lake in winter

Agricultural dugouts as carbon offsets

Given that hard-water lakes in southern Saskatchewan are pulling in CO2 from the atmosphere, we want to determine whether we can use this to our advantage, and find sites that could be used for greenhouse gas offsets.  Agricultural dugouts are prime candidates for carbon burial, as they are managed systems, with similar chemistry to other hard-water systems, and low rates of CH4 and N2O production.  We are currently measuring greenhouse gas emission and uptake rates, carbon burial in the sediments, and basic water quality measurements to determine  which dugout characteristics maximize carbon uptake and long term storage.

We are working with Water Rangers to expand and improve Community-Based Water Monitoring across the province of Saskatchewan. Here, we provide the tools and training to volunteers to sample their lakes and rivers for water quality measurements. By creating a network of highly engaged citizen scientists, we hope to improve the extent of water sampling, and aid in the integration of these data into water management programs in the province, and across Canada!

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Water quality of agricultural ponds and reservoirs

The quality of water in agricultural ponds and reservoirs is often a concern for producers in Saskatchewan. Issues of salinity, blue-green algae, and pathogens can frequently cause health concerns for livestock and wildlife. We are looking into the underlying controls, and potential mitigation opportunities for salinity and sulfate, specifically, in dugouts and wetland ponds on agricultural land. With this work, we aim to develop guidelines for dugout siting best-practices, as well as identify options for water quality remediation. 

© 2017 Kerri Finlay

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