Well being of Lake Memphremagog: encouraging first outcomes – Information – Université de Sherbrooke

Professor Céline Guéguen, Mohamed Gamrani (Master), Justin Forget (Master) and Nicolas Sylvestre (PhD) collect the data.
Professor Céline Guéguen, Mohamed Gamrani (Master), Justin Forget (Master) and Nicolas Sylvestre (PhD) collect the data.

Photo: Michel Caron – UdeS

After 15 months of data collection in Lake Memphremagog, a team of chemists from UdeS tells us that the body of water is doing well, despite being subject to fluctuations related to climate change.

In July 2021, the University of Sherbrooke announced the establishment of a permanent observatory to monitor Lake Memphremagog’s water quality and health. A first floating buoy, equipped with measuring devices, made it possible to collect data in real time for almost 15 months. The research team led by Céline Guéguen, professor in the Department of Chemistry, has compiled valuable results on water temperature, oxygen content and chlorophyll concentration.

The data tells us that the lake is healthy, adapting and changing. It goes through several variations, explains Céline Guéguen, professor at the UdeS chemistry department. We now have a much better idea of ​​what’s happening to it, how ice is affecting its surface, and how temperatures are rising.

The transboundary lake is threatened by multiple factors including excessive phosphorus inputs, the presence of invasive species, development of blue-green algae, recreational activities, expansion of the Coventry landfill (in Vermont) and discharges of toxins (e.g. perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), forming a group of more than 4700 synthetic substances used as surfactants, lubricants and repellents).

Céline Guéguen, professor in the chemistry department of the UdeS
Céline Guéguen, professor in the chemistry department of the UdeS

Photo: Michel Caron – UdeS

We recorded more than 41 days when the water in the lake was above 20 degrees Celsius in 2021, reveals Professor Guéguen. Warmer waters are more prone to the development of zebra mussels and other microorganisms living in the lake. At high water temperatures, dissolved oxygen levels decrease, which can have serious consequences for aquatic organisms, causing the breakdown of organic matter and thus affecting water quality. It’s really important to continue our monitoring of the lake to better understand how it will evolve with climate change.

Special equipment to facilitate sampling

A team of engineering students, led by Professor Michael Canva, Professor Denis Vachon and Professor Céline Guéguen, is preparing a water sampling device to identify and analyze pollutants in the lake. With this instrument it will be possible to sample lake water all year round, even in winter.

A first conference at Lake Memphremagog

On November 17, Professor Guéguen welcomed several people working on water conservation. Scientists from the University of Vermont, Université Laval, Polytechnique de Montréal, Concordia, Ouranos, COGESAF and MCI came together for a first conference at Lake Memphremagog, sharing studies and information on climate change, invasive alien species, collaborations and governance.

More than ever, it is important that we all work together to protect this vital body of water,” says Professor Guéguen.

The research goes on

To ensure monitoring and data collection, Professor Guéguen plans to deploy more buoys elsewhere in the lake. These buoys will also be fitted with water samplers and sediment traps to allow analysis and timing of contaminants in the lake. It is possible to participate in the research work of the P-Team.D Gueguen.

A summer school to ensure succession

Professor Guéguen also wants to set up a summer school so that students can acquire the theoretical and practical bases needed to understand the implications in this area. She hopes this school will allow them to work on projects involving sampling and analysis techniques and deepen their knowledge of water management and policy.

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