Association of Polar Early Career Scientists

Limnology DOMcoverLimnology is the study of inland waters ranging in size from large lakes down to puddles, as well as wetlands and running-water systems such as streams, rivers and estuaries. Inland waters range from very fresh glacier- or groundwater-fed systems, to brackish saline waters in isolated or ocean-influenced basins. Inland water bodies can be permanent features of the landscape, or may be ephemeral features that are only present seasonally. The wide variation in possible sizes, physicochemical characteristics and permanence of inland waters makes limnology a very diverse field of study!

Studying limnology in polar regions adds even more complexity – there are extreme variations in light, nutrient availability and temperature amongst seasons. The presence of a seasonal ice cover, near-desert conditions in surrounding tundra landscape, and very low temperatures all exert strong influences on polar inland waters.

Limnology is an important field of study in the polar regions because lakes and rivers are abundant in the arctic, and in some parts of Antarctica as well. Understanding the processes that occur within a catchment gives a better perspective on interactions within the landscape. For instance, biogeochemical processes generally occur more rapidly in water than they do in polar soils or terrestrial vegetation, making aquatic habitats hot spots for biodiversity and productive aquatic food webs. In the arctic, processes occurring in inland waters also have important impacts on the world’s oceans, because riverine outflow to the Arctic Ocean influences the global thermohaline circulation.

This page was put together by Jolie Gareis, Dr. Heather Mariash and Dr. Nikolaus Gantner. If you would like to add content, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Would you like to learn more about limnology?  Here are some great resources - organizations, research institutes and journals - that will help you learn more!


Looking for advice on research ideas or career paths?

Ask a mentor!

APECS mentors in the fields of limnology and aquatic sciences include:

  • Nikolaus Gantner (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Bristish Columbia, Canada)
  • Milla Rautio (Professor, Quebec, Canada)
  • Kirsten Christoffersen (Professor, Denmark)
  • Heidi Swanson (PhD, Alberta, Canada)

For contact information for these and other mentors, visit the mentor database

Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research
Telegrafenberg A45
14473 Potsdam
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