Lakes around the globe are warming faster compared to the atmosphere and the oceans

Lakes around the globe are warming faster compared to the atmosphere and the oceans

Some of the biggest jumps in temperature around the globe are happening in the lakes, and that is an ominous sign suggesting problems like harmful algae blooms, threat to drinking water supplies, and low-oxygen zones that become hazardous for fish getting still worse – says a scientific report that has been newly released.

After analyzing 235 lakes which together hold over 50% of the fresh surface water on earth, it was found that on an average they have warmed by 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit translating to 0.34 degrees Celsius for every 10 years.  Though this might seemingly be insignificant, the increase is higher than what has been recorded in the atmosphere or the oceans.

Rapid swings such as this can affect the aquatic ecosystems in more ways than one, raising concerns about quality of water that people depend on for drinking, energy production and crop irrigation.

Catherine O’Reilly,  a geologist from Illinois State University who led this study says the message relayed from our lakes is that they are getting stressed more and more.  At the current rate of warming, the type of problems we are seeing now will become common at an increasing pace.

The project was funded partly by the National Science Foundation and NASA and several scientists from 6 continents participated in the project. The results were presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The study also involved a unique combination of temperature data for 25 years measured from ground and satellites.

Warming of lakes at the average global rate or higher was a widespread phenomenon including Lake Tahoe, Dead Sea, Lake Baikal of Siberia, and Sweden’s Lake Fracksjon.  But, the most rapid changes were experienced by lakes in cold regions.

Another concern arising from the rapid warming of lakes is the proliferation of algae blooms. Warmer waters provide the perfect setting for the Algae blooms to flourish, and the report predicts a 20% addition to lake algae over the coming century including a 5% rise in blooms which are toxic to animals and fish. Over 40,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio and Southeast Michigan were left without fresh tap water for 2 days in August 2014 due to an outbreak of toxic algae.

Director of the Institute for Great Lakes Research at Central Michigan University, Donal Uzarski, who did not participate in the study, stated that the findings from the study were consistent with other measurements of water temperature in places like Great Lakes and China’s Poyang Lake.