We know the earth’s air and oceans are getting warmer. But what about lakes? Last year, a group of scientists, including Catherine O’Reilly from Illinois State University, tried to answer this question.

Fishing in lake

By combining a century of data from more than 60 scientists, and with some help from 25 years of NASA satellite images, the team was able to identify a clear global pattern in how lakes are responding to climate change.

O’Reilly: “We calculated what our global average lake warming rate is for lake surface temperatures in the summer, and we found that warming trend is 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.”

That means in 100 years, lakes will be six degrees warmer on average. But O’Reilly says the warming varies a lot from one lake to another because of the influence of local factors such as the amount of cloud cover and lake ice. She says the most rapidly warming lakes are scattered around the world.

Scientists find lakes warming more than air or oceans. Click To Tweet

The warming trend could spell disaster for lake ecosystems, potentially harming fish and threatening our supplies of drinking water. So O’Reilly and her colleagues say we need to monitor the vulnerability of lakes and make plans to protect them from climate change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Peter Bresnan.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
O’Reilly leads global study: Climate change impacting lakes at rapid rate
Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe
Global surface temperature anomalies

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