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Killer Lake Research



Tricia Bunten

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Early this year, UMD graduate student Arthur A. Aaberg broadened
his horizons when he took part in UMD's Large Lakes Observatory
(LLO) research at Lake Kivu in Rwanda. LLO is the only institute of its
kind in the United States dedicated to the study of large lakes throughout
the world. This research addresses concerns for the future of some two
million people living around its shores.

As Aaberg tells it, Kivu, one of the so-called Killer Lakes of Africa,
is located between two volcanoes that cause gases to accumulate near
the lake's bottom. Kivu is permanently stratified due to the effects
of gases and salts on the water density. Additionally, a temperature
inversion occurs near the surface causing cooler water to sit at the
surface above warmer water in the depths. There is long-standing
concern that if something were to disturb this stratification, the release
of gases could threaten people living around the lake. Aaberg's research
involved taking samples and developing temperature profiles over nine
days at Kivu.

Aaberg has an undergraduate degree in physics and computer
science from the University of Minnesota Morris. In addition to his
advanced studies, Aaberg teaches basic physics to UMD undergraduates.
He received the Mylan Radulovich Physics Fellowship for students of
exceptional promise pursuing advanced degrees. Graduate fellowships,
such as Aaberg's, help UMD attract graduate students.

Currently, Aaberg isn't sure if he wants to pursue education or
research. "I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy working on the outside," he said.
In the meantime, he is analyzing the findings of Lake Kivu, comparing
them with other data gathered in recent years. So far, Aaberg said, it
doesn't appear that those two million people near the lake are in any
immediate danger.


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