The warming of world’s lakes puts fresh water supplies in danger, ecosystems at risk and threatens livelihoods around the globe. A recent large-scale study sampled over 200 lakes from all continents to help bring the point home: world’s lakes are warming faster than the oceans or surface temperature due to climate change.
Several studies have focused throughout the years on one particular lake or another. This recent study, presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California, aimed at creating a global picture of what’s happening to the world’s lakes. With the help of 64 scientists around the world, the study is comprehensively showing the risks of the accelerated warming of lakes.
For starters, the warming of world’s lakes puts fresh water supplies in danger. As the water heats at an unprecedented pace, there is plenty of room for a lake to dry out. In addition, before this happens, the scene is set for blooming cultures of toxic algae or bacteria and viruses, rendering the water unusable.
With global communities dependent on lakes for fresh drinking water, this may prove to be a serious issue. Second, the warming of world’s lakes negatively affects the lush ecosystems dependent on the lakes’ water. A number of fish species could perish or be pushed to new habitats. In turn, this affects not only the ecosystem, but local communities’ livelihoods as well.
In a similar scenario to that of warming oceans, global warming is posing a threat to the world’s lakes as well. Even more so due to the fact that lakes were found to warm faster than the oceans or surface temperature. From an ecological perspective, the rapid warming of lakes at a global level prepares the set for millions of tons of carbon released back into the atmosphere. Carbon and other gases contribute to the greenhouse effect driving climate change.
Thus, a vicious circle is created, posing a real difficulty in tackling global warming. According to the study, in just 25 years, the temperature increase at the global level was one third of a degree per decade. If we are to tackle climate change in a meaningful manner, the temperature increase should be kept at a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Or even 1.5 degrees Celsius according to the latest climate agreement reached in Paris.
As for the lakes analyzed in the study, the temperature increase already translates into significant changes. The average temperature increase per decade was 0.34 degrees Celsius. In the same period, oceans warmed by only 0.12 degrees Celsius. Surface temperature warmed by 0.25 degrees Celsius.
If the pace continues untackled, livelihoods, ecosystems and fresh drinking water will all have to suffer.
Photo Credits: Pixabay