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Chemical and physical properties of some saline lakes in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Jeff S Bowman* and Julian P Sachs

Author Affiliations

School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-5351, USA

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Saline Systems 2008, 4:3  doi:10.1186/1746-1448-4-3

Published: 22 April 2008



The Northern Great Plains of Canada are home to numerous permanent and ephemeral athalassohaline lakes. These lakes display a wide range of ion compositions, salinities, stratification patterns, and ecosystems. Many of these lakes are ecologically and economically significant to the Great Plains Region. A survey of the physical characteristics and chemistry of 19 lakes was carried out to assess their suitability for testing new tools for determining past salinity from the sediment record.


Data on total dissolved solids (TDS), specific conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), and pH were measured in June, 2007. A comparison of these data with past measurements indicates that salinity is declining at Little Manitou and Big Quill Lakes in the province of Saskatchewan. However salinity is rising at other lakes in the region, including Redberry and Manito Lakes.


The wide range of salinities found across a small geographic area makes the Canadian saline lakes region ideal for testing salinity proxies. A nonlinear increase in salinity at Redberry Lake is likely influenced by its morphometry. This acceleration has ecological implications for the migratory bird species found within the Redberry Important Bird Area.