NASA has just completed its first comprehensive global survey of temperature trends in major lakes including the Great Lakes and have determined Earth’s largest lakes have warmed during the past 25 years as a result of climate change.
Using satellite data researchers Philipp Schneider and Simon Hook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California measured the surface temperature of 167 large lakes worldwide. They reported that the average warming rate was 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit per decade with some lakes warming as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.
“Our analysis provides a new, independent data source for assessing the impact of climate change over land around the world,” said Schneider, lead author of the study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “The results have implications for lake ecosystems, which can be adversely affected by even small water temperature changes.”
Northern Europe had the largest and most consistent areas of warming. In North America the United States southwest was slightly higher than the Great Lakes region. The satellite temperature trends largely agreed with trends measured by nine buoys in the Great Lakes, Earth’s largest group of freshwater lakes in terms of total surface area and volume.
According to NASA, small changes in water temperature can result in algal blooms that can make a lake toxic to fish or result in the introduction of non-native species that change the lake’s natural ecosystem.