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Glacier-fed rivers in Northern Canada may be consuming significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists.
The researchers examined the Lake Hazen watershed in Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut to study the impact of melting glaciers on freshwater systems.
Concentrations - Carbon - Dioxide - Rivers - Atmosphere
"We observed that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the rivers were much lower than in the atmosphere, meaning that rivers are actively consuming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," explained Kyra St. Pierre, who conducted the study as a Ph.D. student under the supervision of professor Vincent St. Louis.
The researchers attribute the difference in CO2 levels to a process called chemical weathering—a series of chemical reactions that occur as materials like rocks, sediment and soil come into contact with water and gases from the atmosphere.
Landscapes - Expanses - Ground - Sediments - Glaciers
"Glacial landscapes are special in that they have huge expanses of finely ground sediments created by the glaciers themselves as they advance and retreat," said St. Pierre. "As these sediments mix with meltwaters, which in turn mix with the atmosphere, they can undergo...
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