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Lakes may be “ultimate bellwether” of climate change

Nunavik lakes still don’t show signs of warming

By JANE GEORGE

Some places in the Arctic are now experiencing warming, but some aren’t — yet.
That’s why researchers from Quebec City’s Université Laval are monitoring lakes around the Hudson Strait and Foxe Basin, two places where change hasn’t yet been visible.

So far, these lakes haven’t shown any marked changes. Nunavik, in fact, has shown little of the warming noted elsewhere in the Arctic because it’s a peninsula surrounded by water and ice and buffeted by cold winds.

“This region has experienced long-term environmental stability,” said researchers from Laval’s northern studies centre.

What happens between now and 2100, when temperatures will rise at least two degrees C and maybe as much as 10 degrees C in the Arctic, is still unclear — so what happens in this region’s lakes may offer a way to follow changing conditions.

In lakes near Inukjuak, Salluit, Kuujjuaq, Kangiqsuallujjuaq and Coral Harbour, monitoring will show if there’s any rise in water temperature at various levels or changes in acidity.

But slow change may already be occurring. There could be a threshold to these changes. When it’s passed, abrupt and quite noticeable changes could occur.

Melting permafrost in Salluit shows that the difference between this cooler corner of the Arctic and other regions may be changing.

These lakes may be the “ultimate bellwether of large-scale circumpolar change” and track whether the region’s resistance to minor variations in the climate is crumbling.

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