BEIJING, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- China's largest desert freshwater lake is drying up at an accelerated rate due to coal mining and climate change, researchers say.
Hongjiannao Lake, hundred of miles west of Beijing, has been disappearing since the 1970s, but figures show it has been losing area at an increasingly rapid rate since 2009, The Guardian reported.
Local meteorological agencies released data Thursday showing the lake has shrunk in size by almost one-third since 2009, to 12 square miles. In 1969, Hongjiannao was nearly 26 square miles.
"One couldn't see the other bank of the Hongjiannao even through a telescope. Today, it's visible with the naked eye," said He Fenqi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Researchers from the Center for Climate and Security, based in the United States, said "those who control the land, the communist party and the government (at times a blurry distinction) focus on income while the environment and water are bent to accommodate mining demand."