A new study published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal revealed that climate change is affecting the temperature of lakes around the world, which could make a negative impact on the global water supply.

Rising temperature in lakes may potentially bring devastating consequences, such as harmful algae blooms and low oxygen levels in water, which would be dangerous to fish.

The research, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, was a collaboration between several scientists from six continents. It monitored 235 lakes — over half of the world’s freshwater supply — during 25 years, making it the largest study on the field. The information was gathered using both satellite temperature data and long-term ground measurements.

Rapid, unprecedented changes in lake temperature have profound implications for lake mixing, hydrology, productivity, and biotic communities. Credit: Mary Dillane. Location: Lough Feeagh, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Results suggested that lake water has been warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) every decade, which is a bigger increase than that of the atmosphere or the ocean up until now. If it continues like that, it is likely that aquatic ecosystems will be significantly affected, lowering the quality of drinkable water and taking a toll on energy production and irrigation.

“The message we’re getting from our lakes is that they’re getting more and more stressed. With these rates of warming, the problems we’re seeing will become increasingly common,” said Illinois State University geologist and lead researcher Catherine O’Reilly.

According to John Lenters from LimnoTech — a water science consulting firm —, even though there were several lakes affected by the average (or higher) global temperature rising — such as the Dead Sea, Lake Tahoe, Siberian Lake Baikal and Swedish Lake Fracksjon — deep lakes from colder regions suffered the biggest shifts.

For example, the study covered four out of five of the Great Lakes on the United States. Superior, which is the deeper and colder of them, warmed in a speed three times above the average, while the shallowest and warmest Erie was the only one with a temperature below the estimate.

Donald Uzarski, director of the Institute for Great Lakes Research at Central Michigan University, said that what seemed to be no more than a small change in water temperature would produce a domino effect that could drastically impact the ecosystem. He added that other possible sequels of this could be lower lake levels, damaged coastal wetlands and the invasion of exotic species due to the altered ecosystem.

Source: Huffington Post