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Faculty of Arts
Laurier PhD student discusses water research in the Arctic at THEMUSEUM
Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
Oct 17/13| For Immediate Release
Brent Wolfe, Professor
Michael Bittle, Communications Coordinator
WATERLOO – A helicopter circles a lake in Wapusk National Park, southeast of Churchill, Manitoba. The helicopter lands and Hilary White, a Laurier PhD student in geography, exits the cabin, enters the waist-high water and quickly runs a battery of hydrological tests while the rotor blades whirl overhead. The helicopter stops only long enough for White to gather the water and sediment samples and then it is off to the next lake.
On Oct. 20, White will showcase this research in her public talk, “Water research in the Arctic: looking into the past, present, and future,” as part of the Water Dialogues series complementing THEMUSEUM’s fall exhibition, Surface Tension.
White makes the trip to northern Manitoba three times a year to take samples from approximately 40 lakes to measure the impact of climate change on the lakes.
“One of the most striking observations that we have made is that several of these lakes have dried up in the summer during recent years,” said White. “This may be due to climate change – less snowmelt and more evaporation, which may be having a significant impact on this freshwater landscape.”
“Analysis of sediment cores from these lakes will help us determine if the drying of lakes has happened before or if this is a unique consequence of recent climate warming.”
The region’s hydrological fate under conditions of continued warming is uncertain. Identifying the impact of climate change can assist in making informed decisions on the management of water resources.
“The Hudson Bay Lowlands contain thousands of shallow lakes that have rich stores of carbon and provide important wildlife habitat,” said Brent Wolfe, professor, Geography and Environmental Studies and White’s doctoral supervisor. “Hilary's research on their present and past hydrological conditions will provide insight into how the lakes are responding to climate change and what we can expect for the future.”
White’s Water Dialogues talk will highlight the research of Wolfe’s lab group. For the past 10 years, Wolfe and his students have been working across the Arctic – Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, northern Alberta, northern Manitoba, and northern Quebec – to better understand how climate change has been affecting lake-rich landscapes.
White’s research is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Polar Continental Shelf Program, the Northern Scientific Training Program and the Churchill Northern Studies Centre Northern Research Fund.
Water Dialogues, presented by Laurier, educates and inspires conversation around the subject of water. Discussion topics range from the steps Waterloo Region is taking to conserve drinking water to water scarcity around the world. For more information, visit www.themuseum.ca/water-dialogues and www.wlu.ca/research/water.