A study undertaken with the help of satellite network of 150 CubeSats that carried out detailed observations on a daily basis of 85000 lakes in North American during 2017 summer showed how their shorelines changed during the season. Details of the study which have been published in Geophysical Research Letters can have far reaching implications for scientists that are studying effect of natural greenhouse gas emissions from these lakes. The study observed small lakes located in the region of Alaska and Northern Canada and noticed that these water levels in these lakes change more rapidly during summer season than others.
Lead author of the study Sarah Cooley a PhD student at Brown University stated that in recent years several studies have been conducted about effect of climate changes on lake sizes but these have focused on long term changes but this study has for the first time focused on short term changes during a particular season that showed how seasonal variations are more rapid than originally expected. Detailed study of images showed how the shoreline of individual lakes along the region which stretch up to several hundred kilometers change significantly during the season.
During this study a substantial section of the Arctic tundra region and the surrounding boreal forest which circle earth’s northern hemisphere across the band of 50 to 70 degrees north latitude was observed. The region comprises of critical forest area belonging to the tundra ecosystem and also has the highest density of lakes on earth so understanding its hydrological cycle is very important. Also the boreal lakes are responsible for significant amount of greenhouse emissions as their sediments contains organic waste which is washed in from surrounding landscape. Lead author Cooley said that when its shoreline fluctuates rapidly during summer it is likely to emit more carbon so during summer they emit more natural greenhouse gases than expected.