Climate Change Heating Up Lakes, Threatening Freshwater Supplies And Ecosystems

Posted: Dec 21 2015, 5:48am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Photo credit: T. Noges

A study funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation has revealed that the rate at which lakes around the world are heating up is alarming, and this is not unconnected with climate change which is also threatening freshwater ecosystems and supplies.

In a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers worked across 6 continents to analyze 235 lakes over a 25-year period, and then presented their findings on December 18 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Over 60 reputable researchers took part in the study.

"Our knowledge of how lakes are responding to global change has been lacking," said Henry Gholz, program director in the Division ofEnvironmental Biology at the National Science Foundation.

"That has made forecasting the future of lakes – and the life and livelihoods they support – very challenging. These newly reported trends are a wake-up call to scientists and citizens, including water resource managers and those who depend on freshwater fisheries," Gholz added.

Much more than the rate at which the atmosphere or oceans are heating up, the scientists found that lakes around the world are heating up at about 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years, and this is having significant effects on life forms and ecosystems within the lakes.

Algal blooms dissipate oxygen levels in water, and it is expected that algal blooms will rise 20% within the coming century, with 5% of them becoming very poisonous to fish and water animals. Scientists also estimate that methane emissions will rise 4% over the next 10 years – with methane discovered to be 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

"Lakes are important because society depends on surface water for the vast majority of human uses -- not just for drinking water, but manufacturing, energy production, irrigation and crops," said Stephanie Hampton of Washington State University. "Protein from freshwater fish is especially important in the developing world."

The researchers state that when water temperature changes, it affects life-forms and the reliant properties of the water, causing microorganisms to sometimes disappear forever. Although increase in temperature has not been too significant in natural warm-water lakes, they have still reached the point where fish are finding it difficult to cope.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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