Studies of methane release from lakes in the Mackenzie Delta and on Richards Island

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, sediment quality, water monitoring, methane

Principal Investigator: Orcutt, Beth N (3)
Licence Number: 15724
Organization: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2015
Issued: Jul 21, 2015
Project Team: Dr. Laura Lapham (Co-PI, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science), Dr. Geoff Wheat (Co-PI, University of Alaska Fairbanks), Hadley McIntosh (graduate student, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

Objective(s): To study methane release from six different lakes in the Mackenzie Delta and Richards Island area.

Project Description: The focus of this one-year-long project is to study methane release from six different lakes in the Mackenzie Delta and Richards Island area, with a focus on capturing a full ice in/ice out cycle, to determine how much methane is released from lakes under different conditions and how microorganisms increase or decrease methane release.

The research team will to undertake two distinct activities at each lake. Activity 1: Deployment of a small (roughly the size of two milk crates) sampling and sensor package on the lake bottom that continuously collects small volumes of water (less than 2 milliliters per day) into either copper or plastic tubing for laboratory analysis of dissolved gas and ion concentrations, as well as the composition of the microbial ecosystem in the water. These sampling systems are self-contained and do not require batteries, power, or moving systems – they operate by osmosis. The research team will deploy the sampling packages and will recover them the following year using an inflatable boat with a small (<9.9 HP) outboard motor. The packages will be discretely anchored to shore with a negatively buoyant rope to assist in recovery. Nothing will be left in the field upon recovery. In two of the lakes, the team will deploy an additional system to assess variability within individual lakes. Two of the six lakes will be located near Inuvik, two in lakes on the northern portion of Richards Island, and two lakes in the outer delta. Activity 2: To calibrate the results of the year-long deployments, the research team will collect a few push-core samples of lake sediment and take a few liters of lake water for laboratory investigations. A push-core is a small diameter (10 cm diameter) tube that is pushed about 30 cm into the lake bottom with an extended stick, removing a cylinder of sediment. These sediment samples will be transported back to the facilities at the Aurora Research Institute (ARI) for analysis. These two research activities are non-invasive and the team anticipate no substantive disturbance to aquatic or terrestrial wildlife or habitats.

The research team plan to offer several educational outreach activities in Inuvik and for surrounding regional communities. The activities build on a successful series of programs the research team has hosted for elementary, middle, and high-school students and teachers that teach functional technology, team-oriented problem solving, and creative innovation. Specifically, the research team will host two-day workshops for educators and students that train in the building of simple sensors, electronic components, and robots, with a focus on using such devices for local water quality monitoring programs.

The research team can also present the research project at community meetings. The team will make the results of the findings publicly available through distribution at ARI and the project website.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 30, 2015 to August 11, 2015.