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Canada’s renowned freshwater research site to close

Budget fall-out hits environmental research stations The Canadian government has cancelled its funding for the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research site in northwestern Ontario that has led to the re-shaping of international policies. It is the latest target in a string of research programmes to have been scaled back, shut down or left in limbo in the wake of massive cuts to this year’s federal budget. Fisheries and Oceans Canada — the government department that runs the site —  told its staff on 17 May that the ELA, a collection of 58 remote lakes and a laboratory complex, would be … Read more…

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Regime Change: Q&A with John Smol

Nature A freshwater ecologist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Smol studies lake sediments to understand climatic and environmental change. Nature Outlook asks him to share his experience. What can we learn from lake sediments? One of the biggest challenges in environmental science is the lack of long-term data, so we have to use indirect proxies. All over the planet, lakes act as passive samplers of the environment, recording information 24 hours a day. They contain biological, chemical and physical information. The deeper you go in the sediment, the older it gets. Typically, in North America you can go back … Read more…

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Acidic oceans threaten fish

Stocks could suffer as seas soak up more carbon dioxide.  Ocean acidification looks likely to damage crucial fish stocks. Two studies published today in Nature Climate Change reveal that high carbon dioxide concentrations can cause death and organ damage in very young fish. The work challenges the belief that fish, unlike organisms with shells or exoskeletons made of calcium carbonate, will be safe as marine CO2 levels rise. Fish could be most susceptible to carbon dioxide when in the egg, or just hatched. Oceans act like carbon sponges, drawing CO2 from the atmosphere into the water. As the CO2 mixes … Read more…

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Frozen Assets

Maclean’s Ice cores tell the history of Canada’s climate, but now the government doesn’t want them anymore.

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Canada’s ice cores seek new home

Confusion over fate of valuable climate record chills researchers. An unusual ‘help wanted’ advertisement arrived in the inboxes of Canadian scientists last week. The e-mail asked the research community to provide new homes for an impressive archive of ice cores representing 40 years of research by government scientists in the Canadian Arctic. The note was sent out by Christian Zdanowicz, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in Ottawa. He claimed that the collection faced destruction owing to budget cuts at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the government department that runs the survey, and a “radical downsizing” of the Ice Core … Read more…