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The future of Canada's water

Queen’s researcher John Smol joins network examining Canadian lakes.

Queen’s University professor John Smol (Biology) has joined a network of 18 Canadian researchers concerned about the condition of Canada’s lakes. The new Canadian Lake Pulse Network, hosted at Sherbrooke University, received $5.5 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to provide a pan-Canadians perspective on the issue.

John Smol has been named to the Canadian Lake Pulse Network.

Over the next five years the Network will address a number of questions including the current health of Canadian lakes, how has it changed and how might it change in the future. The Network will rely heavily on extensive sampling and existing datasets developed by the 15 university partners, as well as on geomatics and spatial modeling tools to extrapolate local and regional results to larger scales.

Dr. Smol, a paleolimnologist, joins a research team that includes experts in public health, chemistry, and remote sensing. His research will focus on revealing the environmental history of Canadian lakes using the silt and mud at the bottom.

“Lakes have a history archived in their sediments, which provides critical information on how humans and natural processes have affected our freshwater resources.  In order to understand how lakes have changed, we must know what they were like before significant human impacts.  We can confidently provide this information, on a country-wide scale, with our paleolimnological approaches,” says Dr. Smol, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change.

The network aims to provide outcomes that will directly benefit the stewardship of Canadian lakes while advancing the science of limnology. The outcomes include:

  • A large database of lake properties stemming from an extensive sampling program covering most of Southern Canada and some regions of Northern Canada.
  • A pan-Canadian and regional assessment of the current health of Canadian lakes, and the most important drivers altering lakes.
  • Predictions of future changes that may occur in these lakes given realistic scenarios of land and climate change.

The network research team will work closely with scientists from the ministries of environment of many Canadian provinces and territories and federal agencies and ministries. A scientific committee comprising senior network researchers, partner researchers and international advisors will guide the scientific work. A board of directors representing the Network stakeholders will oversee and advise the Network.