Canadian Arctic Waters Threatened

Trout

Trout

The Algonquin Ecosystem supports one of the largest concentrations of self-sustaining brook trout and lake trout fisheries in the world.

Waterfall

The Algonquin Ecosystem depends on evapo-precipitation (lake effect) to replenish the headwaters of the 8 major rivers sourcing there.

THE ALGONQUIN ECOSYSTEM (AN EXAMPLE)

“Fresh-water-generating-ecosystems” (FWGE) are found across Canada wherever warm, moist air is forced upward, resulting in condensation in the form of fresh-water rain or snow. Prevailing westerly winds off water bodies such as oceans or large lakes will give rise to this phenomenon, known as “ocean, or lake effect”. Examples of this may be found in Canada over western Vancouver Island, the western British Columbia mainland, the eastern shore of Lake Superior and the eastern shore of Lake Huron-Georgian Bay.

The Algonquin Ecosystem is located on the “Algonquin Dome”, high country between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in south central Ontario and is an excellent case in point. Lake effect off Georgian Bay-Lake Huron generates significant precipitation in the form of rain or snow, which in turn gives rise to the headwaters of 8 major rivers; the Magnetawan, South, Amable du Fond, Petawawa, Bonnechere, Madawaska, York and Muskoka. Because of this, the Algonquin Ecosystem, which surrounds and includes Algonquin Provincial Park, supports one of the largest concentrations of self-sustaining coldwater brook trout and lake trout fisheries in the world. Readers wishing to learn more about the Algonquin Ecosystem are advised to visit our alternate website www.algonquin-eco-watch.com .

Since lake effect is a result of evaporation and precipitation, it relates directly to the surface area of the source waterbody – in this case Georgian Bay-Lake Huron. If as predicted, Lake Huron water levels continue to decline, lake effect will decline proportionately, resulting in reduced flow off the Algonquin Dome, seriously threatening the wellbeing of the Algonquin Ecosystem and many downstream communities.

Since lake effect depends on open water, winter freeze-up is critical; early or late freeze-up giving rise to lesser or greater precipitation and flow off the Dome respectively. Environment Canada personnel maintain that Global Warming will extend the open water season, giving rise to greater flow in the eight Algonquin rivers. While this may be true in the short- term, it neglects to take into account the fact that 5 of the 8 rivers flow east off the Algonquin Dome, into the Ottawa River system, while only 3 of the 8 rivers flow west back into Georgian Bay. This will give rise to a long-term net loss (in effect a diversion) from the Georgian Bay Lake Huron Basin to the Ottawa River watershed, ultimately exacerbating the Lake Huron diminishing water level situation.

Once humans start tinkering with ecosystems, problems start, usually giving rise to a domino effect that influences other ecosystems and requires constant “fixing”. If we could learn to attune our activities and our numbers to the needs of the ecosystems in which we live, perhaps we could then truly justify calling ourselves “citizens of the earth”. As early as the 1950’s, Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Hopefully, it’s not too late to learn.

Gore Bay Dock

If as predicted, the Lake Huron water level continues to drop, as seen here at Gore Bay, Ontario, lake effect will diminish, negatively affecting stream flow in the Algonquin Ecosystem.