Environment

Satellite data shows that climate change is warming Earth's lakes

Satellite data shows that clim...
The above image shows 25 years of temperature changes, with red indicating warming and blue showing cooling
The above image shows 25 years of temperature changes, with red indicating warming and blue showing cooling
View 3 Images
The study used a combination of satellite data and ground-based measurements taken by buoys such as the one seen above, located in Lake Tahoe on the Nevada/California border
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The study used a combination of satellite data and ground-based measurements taken by buoys such as the one seen above, located in Lake Tahoe on the Nevada/California border
The research made use of 25 years worth of satellite data, including this view of Lake Tahoe as recorded by the ASTER instrument on NASA's TERRA satellite
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The research made use of 25 years worth of satellite data, including this view of Lake Tahoe as recorded by the ASTER instrument on NASA's TERRA satellite
The above image shows 25 years of temperature changes, with red indicating warming and blue showing cooling
3/3
The above image shows 25 years of temperature changes, with red indicating warming and blue showing cooling
View gallery - 3 images

A new study has brought together morethan 25 years of satellite data, combined with ground measurements,to assess the state of Earth's lakes. The results show a troublingrise in temperature that the researchers claim could have a bigimpact on our environment.

The study made use of a combination ofsatellite temperature readings and ground-based measurements of 235lakes on six different continents. While the satellite readingsprovide a global picture of lake temperatures, they only coversurface readings, while ground-based observations detect temperaturesthroughout the water bodies.

According to the researchers, thiscombination monitoring method – alongside the geographically diversenature of the sample – provides the most complete picture of how laketemperatures are changing globally.

Specifically, the results show that theaverage temperature in the lakes has been rising by 0.61 degreesFahrenheit every 10 years. While that might not seem toosignificant, it's a higher rate of warming than witnessed in eitherthe atmosphere or the ocean, and the long-term effects could bepronounced.

The research made use of 25 years worth of satellite data, including this view of Lake Tahoe as recorded by the ASTER instrument on NASA's TERRA satellite
The research made use of 25 years worth of satellite data, including this view of Lake Tahoe as recorded by the ASTER instrument on NASA's TERRA satellite

The researchers predict that thecontinued increase in lake temperature will bring with it an increasein algal blooms by a much as 20 percent over the next century,lowering the water's oxygen levels while increasing toxicity for fish and animal life. Additionally, the temperature rise could cause an overall rise in methane emissions by as much asfour percent in the coming decade.

The temperature increases area little less pronounced in warm-water tropical lakes, but even thenare still significant enough to have a negative impact on the fish.This could be a particular problem in areas such as the African GreatLakes, where fish is a major source of food.

All in all, if the temperature rise isleft to continue, it could have significant negative impacts onthe environment.

"The pervasive and rapid warmingobserved here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impactsinto vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes,"say the researchers.

The findings of the study werepublished in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Source: NASA

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13 comments
LikelyLad
Odd, when the global satellite data shows no warming for almost 19 years. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997/plot/rss/from:1997/trend:1997
Rusty Harris
Here we go again...picking TWENTY FIVE years of data, to show a "trend". HA! And how old is the Earth? Twenty five years, is but a blink of an eye.
toddzrx
Can we please stop the hand-wringing over the non-problem of AGW and move on to doing something more productive?
Rann Xeroxx
What happens to the temp data when you remove the bias ground temps (that NOAA and NASA have admitted altering, 90% upward, and ground stations in heat islands of cities, with air conditioning exhaust hitting some of the instruments, etc).
Sat data has shown a almost 19 year pause in global temp rise while at the same time human released CO2 has increased exponentially.
There is nothing unprecedented about our modern warming.
http://iceagenow.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Easterbrook-Natural_global_warming.jpg
piperTom
Yet another fearful report of "effects [that] COULD BE pronounced". Or they could be trivial. Or they could be beneficial.
I notice a minority of the lakes are growing cooler. What could cause that? (Speculation: experimental error)
RangerJones
I moved to this lake 22 years ago. It has 'silted in' 21 inches since that time all the while maintaining the exact same water level-Of course it's warmer than before and it's much better for all activities. When winter is done, it warms up for use by April 15th(what a great day that is, hmmph) through November 15th.
Island Architect
Great, We have a heat map of Lake Tahoe.
Now the famous Michael Moore lives on Torch Lake, once the very finest turquoise lake in Michigan... the State with the most lakes, rivers and Shore lines.
It has turned into a mess. No longer is it really turquoise and I really don't believe that Michael knows that at all.
So has he stood up for restoring the lake to it's pristine beauty? I don't think so and it is more than evident that he has absolutely no idea of the disaster that has befallen Detroit for Racist Political reasons.
Yes, I know that you will not talk about such issues, and yes for the most part I love what you are doing. But the Wind Engine stuff is pure junk. And you are not helping.
bill
Catweazle
"(Speculation: experimental error)" says piperTom.
Indeed.
I call it False Precision Syndrome myself.
It is peculiar to climate "science" and due to an inability to understand that an average or mean value can never have more significant figures than the least of any of the figures that went into it - including the error bars.
Thus it is ridiculous to compare values of the so-called Global temperature averaged over devices that are only accurate to ±0.5°C at best, end up with differences of the order of a few thousands of a degree Centigrade and proclaim on that basis that XXXX was "the warmest year ever".
Mr. Hensley Garlington
I agree with the others here. Seems a little narrow and biased and not exactly something we can do much about, except invest further in genetically modifying organisms to be more adaptable to environmental changes.
PeterOsborne
With 17 years without any warming, it seems that silting is the cause rather than anthropocentric causes. Not every change, correctly analyzed, is caused by man. Things like the Sun are far more effective.