World’s Lakes Are Warming, New NASA Study Concludes

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A NASA study has determined that the Earth’s largest lakes have warmed during the past 25 years in response to climate change.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used satellite data to measure the surface temperatures of 167 large lakes worldwide. NASA said the research marks the first comprehensive global survey of temperature trends in major lakes.

The researchers found an average warming rate of 0.45 degrees Celsius per decade, with some lakes warming as much as 1 degree Celsius per decade. The warming trend was global, NASA said, with the greatest increases observed in the mid- to high-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

The NASA researchers, Phillip Schneider and Simon Hook, used thermal infrared imagery from U.S. National Oceanic Administration and Atmospheric Administration and European Space Agency satellites. They focused on summer temperatures because of the difficulty of collecting data in seasons when the lakes are ice covered or hidden by clouds.

“Our analysis provides a new, independent data source for assessing the impact of climate change over land around the world,” Schneider said in a statement. “The results have implications for lake ecosystems, which can be adversely affected by even small water temperature changes.”

The lake temperature trends agree with independent surface air temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, NASA said.

Schneider and Hook’s study was published the week of Nov. 22 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.