From Baikal to Tahoe, the world’s lakes are warming quickly by about 0.3 ºC each decade

A new study done across six continents is suggesting that climate change is resulting in rapid warming up of lakes around the globe threatening freshwater supply and ecosystems significantly.

As many as 235 lakes representing over 50% of our planet’s freshwater supply got monitored by scientists for a minimum of 25 years. The gathered information got analyzed by climate scientists, and the results were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists announced the study at the ongoing American Geophysical Union meeting.

The study, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation and space agency NASA, revealed that lakes in our planet are warming up by 0.61° F or 0.34° C per decade. The rate is much higher than the warming rate of both Earth’s atmosphere and the oceans. Scientists are saying that this rapid warming of the lakes might affect our planet profoundly.

This warming up of lakes, according to scientists, will increase algal blooms, events that will eventually absorb the entire oxygen content of water, by 20% over the coming 100 years. Also, algal blooms known to have toxic effects on animals and fish will rise by 5% during this period.

In the warming of lakes continues to take place at the current rate, the next decade will see emission of greenhouse gas methane increase by 4%. For those who don’t know: methane is a greenhouse gas which is 25% more powerful compared to CO2 on the hundred-year time scale.

Stephanie Hampton, the director of the Center for Environmental Research, Education & Outreach at the Washington State University and one of the coauthors of the study, said that our society relies on surface water for most of the human uses.

According to her, surface water is not only required for drinking purposes, we require it even for manufacturing works, energy production, irrigation of crops and for completing many such other jobs. What’s more freshwater fish is an extremely important part of the diet for people in the developing world due to their high protein content.

The study further explained that the increase in temperature of lakes is not a good sign as the water temperature is known for influencing a range of other properties of water that are extremely critical to the viability and health of ecosystems.