Study: World's lakes in 25-year warming

Nov. 23, 2010 at 5:13 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Earth's largest lakes have warmed in the past 25 years in response to climate change, a global survey of temperature trends by U.S. scientists says.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used satellite data to measure the surface temperatures of 167 large lakes worldwide for the comprehensive study, a JPL release said Tuesday.

They found an average warming rate of 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, with some lakes warming as much as 1.8 degrees per decade.

Although the warming trend was global, the greatest increases were in the mid- to high-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, the study found.

"Our analysis provides a new, independent data source for assessing the impact of climate change over land around the world," JPL researcher Philipp Schneider said.

"The results have implications for lake ecosystems, which can be adversely affected by even small water temperature changes," he said.

Small changes in water temperature can result in algal blooms that can make a lake toxic to fish or result in the introduction of non-native species that change the lake's natural ecosystem.

The bodies of water studied were selected from a global database of lakes and wetlands based on size, normally at least 193 square miles or larger, JPL said.

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