Forest fires also harm lakes

Forest fires also harm lakes
Forest fires also harm lakes

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Smoke from wildfires also affects lakes. (File photo)

Photo: Courtesy of Betty Tomatuk

Posted at 2:38 p.m. EDT

In addition to air quality, forest fires also have multiple impacts on lakes, according to researchers from the Université de Montréal a year after the start of the fires that ravaged parts of Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Northern Quebec.

The impacts are felt in several areas, according to Mathilde Blair, who gives the example of the mixing of water caused by tanker planes or the piles of ash that end up in lakes.

Smoke is also a factor, she adds. It can form a shield that blocks light from reaching lakes for 50 or 80 days. Less sunlight on the water surface means less photosynthesis and therefore less oxygen on the lake surface.

It’s still very new [comme champ d’étude]. There are not many studies at the moment. We are trying to understand more why some lakes are experiencing an increase in carbon while others are experiencing a decrease.

A quote from Mathilde Bélair, researcher at the University of Montreal in limnology

Since these effects are usually short-lived, Ms. Bélair believes that the main impacts are in the quantities of carbon that the lakes absorb during forest fires. In our boreal systems, we see more of an effect of increasing carbon, she explains. It could disrupt water temperatures and reduce oxygen at the bottom of lakes, but the effects on aquatic life are little studied.

We’re trying to dig a little deeper to find out what the long-term impacts of the carbon and nutrient input from fires might be, for example on fish communities.she adds.

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