Nav: Home

Lakes warming at alarming rates, York U-led global study warns

December 16, 2015

TORONTO, Dec. 16, 2015 -- Climate change has led to warming of lakes at a rapid rate, even faster than the air or the oceans, according to York U Biologist Sapna Sharma, a lead author of a new global study.

"We found that lakes are warming at an average of 0.34 degrees Celsius each decade all around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems," Professor Sharma says. "This can have profound effects on drinking water and the habitat of fish and other animals."

The study predicts that at the current rate, algal blooms, which can ultimately rob water of oxygen, will increase 20 per cent in lakes over the next century. Algal blooms that are toxic to fish and animals would increase by five per cent. These rates also imply that emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, will increase four per cent over the next decade.

"We found that ice-covered lakes, including Canadian lakes, are warming twice as fast as air temperatures and the North American Great Lakes are among the fastest warming lakes in the world," Sharma notes.

In total, 236 lakes were monitored annually for the past 25 years. "While that's a fraction of the world's lakes, they contain more than half the world's freshwater supply," says Sharma.

Said to be the largest study of its kind, it is also the first to combine manual lake measurements -- made by thousands of scientists over more than a century -- with satellite measurements of lake temperatures collected by NASA over a quarter century.

The study results were announced today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, attended by some of the more than 60 scientists from across the world who have contributed to this study.

The study, 'Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe', funded by York, NSERC, NASA and the National Science Foundation, is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

According to Sharma, the study reveals the importance of assessing the impact of climate in global freshwaters, to evaluate the sustainability of global supplies of food and freshwater.
-end-
York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our 52,000 students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world's most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university - our 11 faculties and 24 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide.

Media Contact:

Gloria Suhasini
suhasini@yorku.ca
416-736-2100, ext. 22094
York University

York University

Related Climate Change Articles:

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...