Diatoms used to track climate change response in world’s northernmost lake

13 October 2012

Lake Kaffeklubben Sø (Photo: D. Mazzucchi)

Diatoms provide an extremely powerful means of analysing historical conditions in lakes. The use of this group of algae has recently shown that climate change alone is responsible for marked alterations in the world’s northernmost lake,  Kaffeklubben Sø, in Greenland.  The lake has evidenced a recent reappearance of diatoms, indicating a change from perennial ice conditions under which cyanobacteria are the typical sole dominants.  The lake is now warming up after 2400 years of permanent ice cover.

Electron microscopy of diatom microfossils from Lake Kaffeklubben Sø (Courtesy: Bianca Perren)

The paper concludes, ominously, that:

...these results portend even greater future biological changes and indicate that, even in absence of synergistic responses involving atmospheric deposition, profound ecological changes in High Arctic biomes will continue to accelerate. 

The world is changing!  Quicker than we think or would like to think!

Another tip: diatoms provide one of the few means of determining what conditions in the aquatic world used to be like, hundreds and thousands of years ago!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *