Warming Lakes: New Global Database Sets the Stage for Research on the Ecological Effects of Climate Change

Photo: Lake Tanganyika. Photo Credit: Pierre-Denis Plisnier
A new global dataset includes temperature data from some of the world’s largest lakes, including Lake Tanganyika (pictured here), as well as small and remote lakes. (Photo credit: Pierre-Denis Plisnier)

Global assessments based on satellite data have found that the world’s largest lakes have steadily warmed in the last 25 years, and some lakes are warming more rapidly than air temperature. I wrote about this in an earlier post, noting that studies of individual lakes, using temperature data gathered in the traditional way, confirmed these findings.

Because these rapid changes in lake temperature have profound implications for lake ecology, researchers recognized the need for assembling lake temperature information from both in-lake (in situ) sampling programs and remotely sensed data sources, a new study says. Researchers working with the Global Lake Temperature Collaboration (GLTC) decided to tackle the challenging task of pulling together data from hundreds of lakes for the 1985-2009 time period.

Unprecedented collaboration among more than 70 investigators in 20 countries has resulted in a massive global database of lake temperature, including from in situ data collection efforts such as those coordinated through the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON).

The GLTC initiative has now assembled a database of summer-mean lake surface temperature for 291 lakes and reservoirs around the world, roughly doubling the amount of data previously available from satellites alone, according to lead author and York University assistant professor Sapna Sharma.

The database includes data from the largest lakes in world, such as the North American Great Lakes, Lake Baikal, and Lake Tanganyika. It also includes small and remote lakes, such as Toolik Lake in Alaska, a site where GLTC lead John Lenters of LimnoTech conducts research.

In a blog “Are Lakes Warming?” —> Read More