[Photo by Jake Eberhardt via Flickr & CC 2.0 License]
Lakes make excellent witnesses, says Utah State University assistant professor Janice Brahney. The sediment at the bottom of lakes can hold clues about life in the lake thousands of years ago, preserving everything from fossils to traces of rainfall.
“I wanted to be a detective growing up, solving puzzles and looking at trace evidence to piece together what happened,” she said. “Lakes are just really excellent recorders.”
Brahney focuses on glacial lakes, which form when giant ice sheets melt. Specifically, she’s been studying the glacial lakes high in the mountains of British Columbia. Her research could help predict how our planet will handle melting glaciers.
Most of the lakes are so remote they don’t even have names. For example, one basin has five lakes that are collectively called Coven Lakes, but the individual Coven lakes are anonymous.