Sunday, August 06, 2017

Cape Cod's Kettle Ponds Are Showing Signs of Climate Change

Several of the Cape Cod National Seashore kettle ponds are seen in this satellite image. (Credit: Google) Click to Enlarge.
For years, scientists have been warning about the transformation of Cape Cod's seashore due to climate change.  Now they're saying the Cape's other waterways, especially its hundreds of kettle ponds, are also affected.

We recently visited Snow Pond, a kettle pond in Truro, with Stephen Smith, a plant ecologist at the Cape Cod National Seashore.  He says these kettle ponds may be showing the most visible signs of climate change on Cape Cod.

Deborah Becker:  Can you describe a kettle pond and what you're doing to monitor them?

Stephen Smith: They were originally formed by melting blocks of ice that left depressions in the landscape that eventually filled up with fresh water.  There's about a thousand of these kettle ponds actually throughout Cape Cod.  So these ponds are isolated bodies of water, they're like bowls of soup sitting in the landscape.  They're highly influenced by atmospheric conditions, namely precipitation and the general climate or weather conditions.

Two things have significantly affected our kettle ponds over the last couple of decades.  One is kind of a good news story:  They're recovering from acid rain, so our ponds are becoming less acidic and that's because rain water is becoming less acidic because air pollution regulation has dramatically reduced concentrations of nitrates and sulfates that caused this acidity in the '80s and '90s.  The other one is climate change has caused significant warming of these ponds, particularly in the surface layers and also vertically.  There has been a dramatic change in the temperature structure from top to bottom.

Read more at Cape Cod's Kettle Ponds Are Showing Signs of Climate Change

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