Christina Maki's Research

by Christina Maki

In order to understand our rapidly changing climate, we need a better understanding of how climate has varied in the past. Lake sediments can inform us about what historical climates were like and how climate has varied in the past. My research is part of a 4 year study to interpret lake sediment records from an area in northwestern Iceland.

My research is on the present day transport of materials from the watershed to Lake Vatnsdalsvatn, via the inlet river. Rivers act as highways transporting materials which eventually accumulate on the lake bottom as sediments. These sediment deposits build up overtime and offer a timeline of events occurring in the lake and the surrounding land. 

By understanding how lakes and watersheds are linked in the present, it will help us understand patterns of past events which can, in turn, help us predict and prepare for the future.

  • Lake sediment cores from three lakes in northwestern Iceland exhibit really interesting patterns in chemistry, exhibiting peaks in metal concentrations every 80-110 years (Doner, 2003).

  • The hypothesized driver of the lake sediment chemistry pattern is the climate, specifically the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

  • However, in order to interpret the interesting patterns of the lake sediment core and to determine if they are climate related, we need to understand how the watershed works.

1. What are the water sources and flow paths of water entering Lake Vatnsdalsvatn?

2. What are the variations in the dissolved metal concentrations transported by the Vatnsdalsa River to Lake Vatnsdalsvatn

  • Snowmelt is a major control on the chemical makeup of streamwater entering Lake Vatnsdalsvatn.
  • During periods with snow cover the snowpack acts as a barrier, allowing primarily groundwater (using dissolved vanadium flux as a tracer) to enter into the streamwater.  In contrast, the removal of snow cover allows for flushing of weathered products previously held immobile in the soil (using dissolved aluminum flux as a tracer).
  • Rainfall on snow-free land triggers an increase in total suspended solids in the streamwater.

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