Title of Expedition: Assessing the release of reactive nitrogen by melting alpine glaciers: effects on diatom diversity and water clarity in lake ecosystems over the last century.

Names of CCI participants: Carmen Daggett, Jasmine Saros, Caleb Slemmons, Krista Slemmons, Courtney Wigdahl, Dominic Winski,

Names of collaborators: Krista Slemmons and Jasmine Saros

Location: Beartooth Mountains (central Rockies), Montana and Wyoming

Dates: August, 2010

Description of research expedition: The goal this expedition was to understand how melting mountain glaciers affect the structure and function of alpine lake ecosystems. Specifically, we hoped to address how primary producers in alpine lakes respond to changes in nutrient flux and water clarity from glacial meltwater. Data collected will also be utilized to predict the fate of these important phytoplankton communities. It is expected that changes in nutrient levels from an increase in glacial meltwater may disrupt diatom assemblages and overall lake productivity. Few studies have addressed this issue or made an attempt to determine the true impact of the recession and ultimately the cessation of glaciers on alpine lake ecosystems. We are addressing two key questions:  1) How does the nutrient chemistry of glacial meltwater alter the productivity and biodiversity of lake ecosystems? 2) What happens to biodiversity and water clarity of lake ecosystems after glaciers completely disappear? In addition, the field crew collected profiles from 10 lakes, several which were sampled for the first time, to be included in a database of profiles covering the last ten years and additionally collected samples from the inlet and outlets of glacially fed lakes to be included in research studying the fate of glacial nutrients as they enter a lake ecosystem



Figure 1. Day 1: Heading out to profile Rainbow Lake (elevation» 8,000ft ), a glacially fed lake in the Beartooth Mountains

figure 2

Figure 2. Day 1: Hike towards Rainbow Lake.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Day 1: Rainbow Lake.

figure 4

Figure 4. Day 1: Carmen Daggett, Dominic Winski, Krista Slemmons and Caleb Slemmons filtering phytoplankton samples for chlorophyll analysis from lake water.

figure 5

Figure 5. Day 3: Hiking along a 7 mile (11.2 km) trail to Jasper and Albino lakes (elevation»10,000ft).

figure 6

Figure 6. Day 3: Profiling Jasper Lake: Collecting water from three depths for nutrient and phytoplankton analysis and surveying lake for chemical characteristics such as light attenuation, pH, temperature, etc. Pictured: Carmen Daggett, Coutney Wigdahl and Krista Slemmons.

figure 7

Figure 7. Google Earth image of Jasper (glacially fed) and Albino (snow fed) lakes.  These lakes are showing differences in phytoplankton community form and function even given the close proximity.

figure 8

Figure 8. Day 4 Setting up nutrient addition experiment in Beauty Lake. Experiment consisted of water samples from 7 lakes with treatment of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Nitrogen + Phosphorus and Control.  Experiments were incubated for one week.  At the completion of the experiment, water was sampled for chlorophyll and phytoplankton.figure 9

Figure 9. Day 4: Beauty Lake, location of nutrient addition experiment

figure 10

Figure 10.  Day 5: Set-up for primary productivity experiment of 7 lakes using 14Carbon uptake.Figure 11

Figure 11. Day 8:  Lake sediment core extracted from Jasper Lake. Jasmine Saros and Courtney Wigdahl setting up for extruding lake core

figure 12

Figure 12. Day 8: Krista Slemmons and Courtney Wigdahl extruding sediment in 0.5 cm increments from Jasper core. Background: Jasper Lake, a glacially fed lake.

figure 13

Figure 13. Day 9: Carmen Daggett packing up coring rods from Albino Lake for 7 mile hike to trailhead.

Funding support: Dan and Betty Churchill Fund