The Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD) has been central to the lives of the first nations communities of fort chipewyan for centuries. It is the world’s largest boreal freshwater delta. For the past 50 years, there have been many unresolved concerns over the potential effects of major energy projects, climate change and reduced river discharge on lakes in this floodplain landscape.
Researcher: Laura Neary, MSc (2018–present)
Examining hydrological and limnological variables can further identify factors that control lake carbon balances across the Peace- Athabasca Delta and major influences on lake carbon balance at 62 lakes and nine river sites in the PAD. Improved understanding of influential processes affecting carbon balance in northern floodplain lakes will allow decision makers to accurately quantify their importance to global carbon budgets and to forecast responses to anticipated climate change.
Researcher: Mitchell Kay, PhD Student (2017–present)
We are applying paleolimnological approaches at 15 strategically selected lakes in the Athabasca Delta. This will provide critically missing long-term information on pre-industrial baseline levels of metal contaminants carried by the Athabasca River as well as identifying the key hydroecological drivers that are causing the perceived declines in river flow and flood frequency at the eastern terminus region of the Athabasca Delta. These findings are important for decision makers tasked with determining if the status of this UNESCO World Heritage Site should be changed to ‘World Heritage in Danger’ and formulating an action plan to protect the hydroecological integrity of the delta’s perched lakes.
Researcher: Colin Burchill, BA (2016–19)
Examining the past hydrological and climatic conditions of Egg Lake, a lake that has been frequented by the local First Nations for many years will provide insight on hydrological conditions in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Several sediment cores have been extracted from the lake as they provide a long time scale to compare the past and the present. Many lakes that have been studied in the past were chosen for scientific reasons and may not reside in areas frequently accessed by local First Nations. A lake of local significance was chosen to perform this analysis so that it would resonate more with decision makers in the area and hopefully lead to effective management strategies and the preservation of the PAD.