The year 2012 was a perfect year for salt lake research. If one decide to organize travel map based on salt lakes mentioned during the year in research papers he or she should visit all six continents and hard to survive places such as deserts, mountains or even lake under the Antarctic ice sheet. I decided to repeat analysis of research activity similar to previous year.
The database used was Web of Science.
The timespan was Year 2012 (actually more papers for year 2012 will be added within next one-two months but that is good what is in time).
The topic I searched was (salt lake or saline lake).
The result is 359 papers.
The quick look on these papers has shown that some of them out of scope of salt lake research. I tried to search with the topic (lake and salinity) and the result was less than three hundreds. I guess that the correct estimate of the number of papers focused on salt lakes is about 300-400 papers per year.
This count is an order of magnitude smaller than the annual number of papers on freshwater lakes. Of course I know the trick how to improve the statistics for saline ecosystems – to include into the analysis the research on seas and oceans. But this is not fair. On the other hand fewer papers is published, the easier it is to analyze them.
Most active countries in publishing activity were almost the same as previous year: the unquestionable leader is US (more than 100 papers); China is quickly approaching the leader (about 70 papers); almost equal and far from leaders are Germany, Canada, Spain and Australia (20-30 papers per country).
I also selected the top papers. The selection was based on the impact factor of journals where papers were published and subjective estimate of the originality and quality of results. There is also library subscription bias in this selection as I selected only those papers which I can download. Luckily most of papers I want to include were accessible.
1. Vanja Klepac-Ceraj with colleagues profiled distributions of 16S rRNA genes and used microarrays to study microbial diversity in Mahoney Lake in Canada. This is one of the best known meromictic lakes in the world but still it attracts researchers. This interest is mostly promoted by the structure of the stratified system which creates separated by the gradients of physical and chemical factors narrow niches and support high microbial diversity.
2. Joel Ruch and the international team of scientists studied the evolution of salars in the Atacama Desert in Chile using … satellites. They monitored twelve salars and all of them were changing in size with time. As the dynamics of salars depends on the presence of brine and saline groundwater it can be used as an indicator of water resource evolution in the central Andes.
3. Karin Rengefors from Sweden stated that polar lakes may act as ecological islands to aquatic protists. Together with coauthors she analyzed the population genetic structure of the dinoflagellate in four saline lakes of the Vestfold Hills in Antarctica. These lakes are ice-covered most of the year. Analyses showed that the dinoflagellates populations in these four geographically closed lakes are genetically different. The finding is probably expected in lakes physically isolated by ice from any type of interactions.
4. The paper by Dimitry Sorokin is about how to use bacteria from salt lakes to clean up the water. Microorganisms are widely used to degrade various organic and inorganic pollutants. Most often these bacteria are freshwater ones. The water treatment at high salinity is not conventional. Well-known in the world of microbiology surname (Sorokin) is an indicator that the review on biodegradation potential of microorganisms tolerant to high salinities is worth to read.
5. The final paper in my small top is the study by Daniel Kelting on the effect of paved roads on sodium and chloride in lakes. It is not about natural salt lakes but about lakes that can become saline just due to human attempts to make roads clean and safe during the winter time. Lakes in watersheds with paved roads have more sodium and chlorine than lakes in remote areas. The higher is the density of roads, the more chlorine and sodium contains lake water. State roads (which I guess cleaned more intensively) were more important than local roads (at least in Russia nobody will care about local road with salt). Finally, the road proximity to shoreline mostly contributed to sodium and chloride concentrations in lakes. Very straightforward and that is why elegant research.
Of course there were quite a lot of other perfect papers in 2012. Some of them were mentioned in this blog. We visited lagoon in Pacific Ocean, Argentina, US, France, Spain, Kenya and Iran. I am sure the next year will be also productive and enough saline.
KLEPAC-CERAJ, V., HAYES, C., GILHOOLY, W., LYONS, T., KOLTER, R., & PEARSON, A. (2012). Microbial diversity under extreme euxinia: Mahoney Lake, Canada Geobiology, 10 (3), 223-235 DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2012.00317.x
Ruch, J., Warren, J., Risacher, F., Walter, T., & Lanari, R. (2012). Salt lake deformation detected from space Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 331-332, 120-127 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.03.009
RENGEFORS, K., LOGARES, R., & LAYBOURN-PARRY, J. (2012). Polar lakes may act as ecological islands to aquatic protists Molecular Ecology, 21 (13), 3200-3209 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05596.x
Sorokin, D., Janssen, A., & Muyzer, G. (2012). Biodegradation Potential of Halo(alkali)philic Prokaryotes Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 42 (8), 811-856 DOI: 10.1080/10643389.2010.534037
Kelting, D., Laxson, C., & Yerger, E. (2012). Regional analysis of the effect of paved roads on sodium and chloride in lakes Water Research, 46 (8), 2749-2758 DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2012.02.032