| Mar 03, 2011

Photo: NAEC students gather core samples from Lake Mazinaw. Courtesy of Dave Deacon

Grade nine students from North Addington Education Centre in Cloyne had a chance to get to the bottom of things when on Feb.23 they assisted Queen’s University geographer Scott Lamoureux and Professor Robert McLeman of the University of Ottawa in extracting core samples from the bottom of frozen Mazinaw Lake near Bon Echo Provincial Park. The research is part of a multi-university project aimed at understanding what impacts climate change may have in store for people of this region. The samples will be used to reconstruct the environmental changes in the Eastern Ontario Highlands over the past several centuries. By involving local communities in the project, the researchers hope to raise awareness of environmental issues and to encourage students to pursue post-secondary training in environmental research.

Participating students from Mr. Hasler's, Ms. Snider's and Ms. Lloyd’s classes at NAEC used an auger to drill holes into the lake ice, into which they inserted metre-long plastic tubes. The tubes were then lowered down to the lake bottom and a weight was used to pound the tubes into the sediment there encasing a core sample in each. The layers in the cores show a history of the environment going back hundreds of years, to pre-European settlement. Two samples were obtained, which students then took back to their classrooms, where they were studied.

Professor Robert McLeman explained what exactly the samples showed. “We saw in both samples, about mid-way through, a large grey streak which points to an event that likely occurred roughly 100 years ago. The streak demonstrates that there was large-scale erosion going on, likely the result of the clear cutting of the forest around the lake.”

McLeman explained how this type of information would give researchers the information they are hoping to gain to get a better understanding of climate change. ”With this research we are hoping to get a better understanding of the trends of long-term environmental trends in the region. We will use the findings to help us plan for the future and help us to adapt to climate change. Similarly, because so many people live downstream from Mazinaw Lake it’s also important for us to understand what changes are happening from a water management point of view.”

Researchers plan to take more core samples from the lake, which will be sent to laboratories for further study. The results will also be sent to the students at NAEC for further learning opportunities.

Professor McLeman was pleased to provide the students with such an exciting and valuable hands-on learning tool. “By allowing the students to practice hands-on science in their own backyard we are hoping to get them excited about the environmental sciences and are also hoping to encourage them to pursue environmental studies later on, either at college or university.”



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