Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

World’s lakes feeling the heat

An increase in lake temperature could encourage algae bloom growth An increase in lake temperature could encourage algae bloom growth Hired Falcon
19 Mar
2015
Temperatures in world’s lakes are rising, but data has been sparse. A Canadian-led effort has filled in the gaps

Climate change is increasing lake surface temperatures across the world. The problem is that until now the change has only been understood through satellite observations.

Increases in lake temperatures could have significant implications for ecology. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, warming lakes can form ‘dead’ zones’ – oxygen-starved areas susceptible to toxic algae blooms. Cold-water species can also be displaced from a lake.

Other potential impacts include greater stress on species due to changes in season and an increase in disease.

Researchers from York University in Toronto have monitored the increase in lake temperatures by constructing a database stretching back to 1985.

‘There has been a significant need to put together a database like this, considering the rapid warming of lakes,’ says Professor Sapna Sharma, who led the international effort.

The database includes 291 lakes and reservoirs across the world with summer-mean temperatures collected up to 2009.

‘Previously there were only satellite collected data available globally and we have doubled the data through in situ programs such as the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network and long-term monitoring programs, which collect data from visiting these locations,’ Sharma adds.

‘Unfortunately satellites are generally restricted to observing lakes greater than 10,000 ha and so miss out on 90 per cent of the world’s lakes that are smaller and shallower,’ she told Geographical.

Over 20 countries contributed to the four-year effort, with samples gathered from every continent.

‘Our plan is to include additional lakes, longer time periods, and vertical temperature profile data,’ adds Sharma.

Read the GLTC group’s research in Nature’s Scientific Data Journal

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Forests

The impacts of deforestation are wide ranging. But while some…

Places

Community trekking is the latest development to emerge from the…

Cities

Scientists are using sophisticated data modelling to predict how cities…

Places

The most populated country of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has been…

Forests

To protect the forests that act as natural carbon reservoirs,…

Forests

Recent research finds that climate change-induced drought is having a…

Cities

The city of Calais struggles with its reputation. More often…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig and Tina Gotthardt map the coronavirus

Water

The controversial practice of cloud-seeding has always been difficult to…

Forests

The impact of wildfires on water supplies has received little…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps the two sides of global malnutrition –…

Cities

Thomas Bird reports on the coronavirus, speaking to those trapped…

Forests

The world’s second largest tropical forest receives significantly less funding…

Cities

The world’s first water-borne dairy farm has been erected on…

Cities

Continental Europe’s most extensive underground rail transport network, the Madrid…

Cities

A central highway in Brazil’s largest city is about to…

Cities

Urban photography marries themes and passages from TS Eliot in…

Mapping

From Leonardo da Vinci’s genius and the history of Starbucks,…

Mapping

How do you usually travel to work? Question 41 in…

Water

The Nile is home to mysteries both ancient and modern…