Permafrost-related threats to alpine headwater lakes: insights from paleo-ecotoxicological studies
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The exposure of fresh surfaces of sulfide-rich rocks to air and oxygenated water by retreating glaciers and degrading permafrost increases the oxidation of sulfide minerals, which is responsible for the generation of natural acid rock drainage (ARD). Applying the paleoecological analysis of morphological abnormalities in populations of a chironomid species inhabiting lakes affected by ARD through the past millennium, we tested and rejected the hypothesis that unfavorable conditions for aquatic life in the ARD-stressed lakes are largely related to the temperature increase over recent decades, responsible for the enhanced release of ARD contaminants. Our results indicate that the ARDs generated by rock glaciers in the catchments are of a long-lasting nature and the frequency of chironomid morphological deformities was significantly higher during the Little Ice Age (LIA) than during pre- or post-LIA periods, suggesting that lower water temperatures may increase the adverse impacts of ARD on aquatic invertebrates.
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Rock glaciers in crystalline catchments: Hidden permafrost-related threats to alpine headwater lakes Ilyashuk B; Ilyashuk E; Psenner R; Tessadri R; Koinig KA (2018)A global warming-induced transition from glacial to periglacial processes has been identified in mountainous regions around the world. Degrading permafrost in pristine periglacial environments can produce acid rock drainage ...
The Little Ice Age signature in a 700-year high-resolution chironomid record of summer temperatures in the Central Eastern Alps Ilyashuk EA; Heiri O; Ilyashuk BP; Koinig KA; Psenner R (2019)Despite the fact that the Little Ice Age (LIA) is well documented for the European Alps, substantial uncertainties concerning the regional spatio-temporal patterns of temperature changes associated with the LIA still exist, ...
Permafrost-related threats to alpine headwater lakes: evidence from integrating contemporary research Ilyashuk BP; Ilyashuk EA; Psenner R; Tessadri R; Koinig KA (2018)Degrading permafrost in periglacial environments can produce acid rock drainage (ARD) and cause severe ecological damage in areas underlain by sulfide-bearing bedrock. Comparative research design was used in the integrating ...