Earth’s Lakes Are Warming Faster Than The Oceans And Atmosphere

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Some of the world’s biggest temperature jumps are happening in lakes — an ominous sign that suggests problems such as harmful algae blooms and low-oxygen zones hazardous to fish will get worse, says a newly released scientific report.

An analysis of 235 lakes that together hold more than half the earth’s fresh surface water found they have warmed an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.34 degrees Celsius per decade, the report said. While seemingly insignificant, the increase is bigger than those recorded in the oceans or the atmosphere.

Such rapid swings can affect aquatic ecosystems in profound ways, raising concerns about the quality of waters that people rely on for drinking supplies, crop irrigation and energy production.

“The message we’re getting from our lakes is that they’re getting more and more stressed,” Catherine O’Reilly, an Illinois State University geologist who led the study, said Thursday. “With these rates of warming, the problems we’re seeing will become increasingly common.”

Dozens of scientists in six continents took part in the project, funded partly by NASA and the National Science Foundation. The results, made public this week during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, were based on a first-of-its-kind combination of temperature data from satellites and ground measurements over 25 years. They are being published in the group’s journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

Lakes warming at the average worldwide rate or higher were widespread, including the Dead Sea, Lake Tahoe, Lake Baikal in Siberia and Lake Fracksjon in Sweden. But deep lakes in cold regions had the most rapid changes, said John Lenters of LimnoTech, a water science consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

They included four of the five U.S. Great Lakes — Superior, Huron, Michigan and Ontario. Only Lake Erie, the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes, —> Read More