First Expedition to Mt. Tymfi's Dragonlake

The alpine lake of Mount Tymfi (2,050m asl) - also known as Tymfi’s Dragonlake - is one the most scenic and famous mountaineering destinations in Greece. Every year, approximately 20,000 people visit the lake in order to witness the unique landscape that was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. Today, as the greek glaciers have long vanished, alpine lakes have stayed behind to maintain life on the mountains. Their existence is crucial for the mountainous flora and fauna of higher elevations (i.e. above 2000m asl), as they provide a water “reserve” that supports life year round - especially during the hot and dry summers of the Mediterranean climate.

However, the ongoing impacts of climate change and human activities are posing serious threats to that important habitat. For many years, the remoteness of Tymfi’s Dragonlake - as well as any other alpine lake - made it virtually impossible for scientists to study such an environment in order to better understand and effectively protect it.

On the second week of October 2022, a team of eight young scientists from Greece and abroad set out to Tymfi's Dragonlake for the first expedition of the LiMnADs Project. This project is a volunteer effort to study the environment of Mediterranean alpine lakes in order to uncover their secrets and understand how to better protect them in the future. The LiMnADs Project is done in collaboration with the National Observatory of Athens and the management body of Vikos-Aoos UNESCO Global Geopark - Development Organization EPIRUS SA.

During their expedition to Tymfi, the LiMnADs team collected important data for the conservation of the Dragonlake. Those data included water samples for microplastic analysis, a high-resolution map of the lake’s catchment area, and measurements regarding the condition of the grassland surrounding the lake. The LiMnADs team with the help of meteorologists from NOA, also installed a weather station on site to measure the atmospheric conditions in the area. Finally, an underwater station that will measure and monitor hydrological conditions was also deployed inside the lake. This station is an innovation developed by the engineering team of the LiMnADs project, funded by the Cambridge University Engineering Society and supported by Blue Robotics Inc. and Trezos Marine.

The launching of this project marks an important milestone as the beginning of a one year pilot study of Tymfi’s Dragonlake. The team hopes for a successful outcome that will help them conduct similar studies in other alpine lakes of Greece in the years to come, in order to ensure that these pristine and wonderful places will be there for the next generations to see and experience.

Images by: Konstantinos Sofikitis