Why are we studying Hydrology

Water is the lifeblood of our planet. It supports life on earth - from wild species of flora and fauna, to humans. In the countries of the Mediterranean basin, most of our water comes from mountainous regions. However, climate change is causing water availability in the region to change.

Water has the ability to change its physical parameters (density, temperature, oxygen, salinity and pH) through the influence of the weather in the atmosphere around it. Thus any water body is highly dependent of climatic behaviours in its area. Other then the oceans or rivers, small lakes have much stronger and faster effects of slight atmospheric changes, due to their smaller amount of water compared to a large water body like the oceans. In particular alpine lakes, which are at high elevations (above 1.500 metres asl.), are penetrated by a very harsh and highly fluctuating climate. This is the reason why alpine lakes are the best places to research climate change through an hydrological approach. Although well developed networks exist for monitoring the climate at lower elevations, hydrological time-series datasets for high elevation alpine lakes are non-existent. The harsh and highly fluctuating environment makes those measurements a great challenge.

With the self developed autonomous underwater station of the LiMnADs Project this challenge can be tackled. Its capability of staying underwater for a long periods of time, allows us to monitor changes in temperature, oxygen, water level, salinity, and pH. This way, we are filling in a large data gap that has obstructed the effective conservation of these crucial habitats. Specifically, equipped with this high-resolution hydrological data, we can develop a better understanding of the alpine environment and its impacts through climate change will be better understood. Then, sustainable strategies can be developed for the protection of the fragile environment and its inhabitants eg. the alpine newts.

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