SOURCE: Nature Communications

DATE: March 29, 2018

SNIP: In this study, we investigate how a warming climate has impacted the Lake Hazen watershed from its glacier headwaters, all the way through to the Arctic Char at the top of the aquatic foodweb, using a combination of historical, contemporary, modeled and paleoliminological datasets. We hypothesized that, due to its large size and thermal inertia, Lake Hazen would be more resilient to Arctic warming than smaller aquatic ecosystems, a number of which have already undergone significant regime shifts.

However, we demonstrate that the Lake Hazen watershed was not resilient to even an ~1 °C relative increase in recent summer air temperatures. Accelerated melt in the cryosphere resulted in an ~10 times increase in delivery of glacial meltwaters, sediment, organic carbon and legacy contaminants to Lake Hazen and a reduction in summer lake ice cover. Changes to the physical and chemical components of the watershed caused an ecological reorganization of the algal (diatom) community assemblage and a decline in the physiological condition of Arctic Char.