Water Quality

A technician lowers a secci disk into the water to measure turbidity.
Measuring water clarity with a Secchi disk in Dakavak Lake, Katmai National Park & Preserve.

NPS/Evan Booher

Lakes integrate water, energy, nutrients, sediments, and pollutants from the surrounding land and air. Therefore, lake water quality can be a useful indicator of broad-scale stressors, such as climate change. High-latitude lakes are projected to become not only warmer as a result of climate change, but also more turbid, more enriched in nutrients and organic matter, and more productive. These changes have the potential to impact the growth, survival, and reproduction of aquatic organisms, such as salmon, and also the terrestrial organisms that rely on them.

The Southwest Alaska Network monitors several lake water quality parameters, including temperature, pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. Because these four parameters are monitored by all I&M networks nationwide, they are called “core parameters.” We also monitor water clarity, due to the glacial influence on water quality in many watersheds.

Our monitoring objectives are to answer the following questions:

  • What are the status and trend of the core parameters during a mid-summer index period within select lakes?

  • What are the status and trend of lake temperature, duration and depth of thermocline, stratification patterns, and warming and cooling patterns within select lakes?

  • What are the status and trend of the core parameters at select lake outlets during the ice-free period?

We currently monitor water quality at various sites in Katmai and Lake Clark national parks and preserves and Kenai Fjords National Park.


Contact: Krista Bartz

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    Last updated: June 18, 2018