Rise in Lake Water Temperatures Big Cause for Concern

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December 20, 2015

Lake water is warming as well as sea water, causing large problems around the world, according a new study.

The study, out of Washington State University, found that worldwide, lake water temperature is rising by an average of 0.3 degrees Celsius every 10 years. The authors of the study, who examined temperatures of 235 lakes worldwide from 1985 to 2009, warned not to make too light of the small rise in temperature. What the authors of the study found was a marked increase in algae and a marked increase in the deaths of fish, all around the world.

It wasn’t just fish, either. The study found that Lake Baikal, in Siberia, was warming enough to endanger the life cycle of the Baikal seal, whose young are born on sheets of ice that will no longer be suitable, given current warming trends.

Lake Erie in summer 2015 was one prominent example of a fierce algae bloom, due in large part to the dumping of pollutants like farm fertilizers into the lake. And the study’s authors predicted even harsher times ahead for the troubled Great Lake, perhaps double the number of severe algael blooms in the next century.

All four of the other Great Lakes showed higher than average temperature rises. Near the top of the list was Lake Tahoe.

The study melded earlier ground-based research techniques and the study of data from global satellites.

The research showed that not all lakes had rising temperatures. Some lake water temperatures (as many as 10 percent of those studied) had decreased during the 24 years of the study. Several lakes in particular had a lower temperature, researchers said, in large part because the forest surrounding the lake had been allowed to regrow. Another possible cause of a lake’s temperature’s cooling, the researchers said, was, parodixically, another result of global warming, the increasing speed with which glaciers melt.

The study’s authors predicted further rises in lake temperatures in the years to come. The smaller the lake, the larger the rise in temperature will be, the researchers said.

The researchers presented their findings at the December 16 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. The journal Geophysical Research Letters will publish the report.

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