Acting now could help protect lakes from global warming
The Ödsee in Upper Austria.
Þingvallavatn in Iceland, where researchers have recently discovered a fish pathogen that was previously unknown in this country’s cold, clear freshwater ecosystems.
Sunset at one of the world’s great steppe lakes, the Neusiedler See.
Had a chance to explore some of Austria’s most beautiful lakes this summer, and spent time talking to scientists about how they will be affected by global warming. As it turns out, there are a few thing we can do to try protect them from climate change impacts, but we have to act now, and in the hope that we can tackle the larger problem in the near future by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the short-term, protecting lakes from pollution, making sure their source waters are clean and cool and trying to protect groundwater that feeds into lakes can help make them more resilient to climate change. In some cases, fisheries managers should probably be thinking about trying to create climate sanctuaries for some species, and regular monitoring, linked with adaptive management, can also help control impacts. Read my story for Deutsche Welle to learn more.
Road salt, development blamed for spiking chloride levels
Lakes from New England to the Midwest are getting saltier from the massive use of chemicals to melt ice on roads, as well as from urban development. Under the current trend, many North American lakes will surpass EPA-recommended chloride levels in 50 years, spelling trouble for aquatic ecosystems.
Scientists eye winter ecosystems in ice-covered lakes
A team of international scientists who studied more than 100 lakes during the winter said there’s more going on beneath the ice than we realized. Their findings stand to complicate the understanding of freshwater systems just as climate change is warming lakes around the planet, and shortening the ice season on many lakes. Other parts of the planet’s cryosphere are also melting under the thickening layer of heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution.
“As ice seasons are getting shorter around the world, we are losing ice without a deep understanding of what we are losing,” said Stephanie Hampton, a Washington State University professor and lead author of a new study published in the journal Ecology Letters. “Food for fish, the chemical processes that affect their oxygen and greenhouse gas emissions will shift as ice recedes.” Continue reading “Life under the ice”→
The world’s lakes are rapidly warming under a blanket of man-made greenhouse gases, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to scientists who studied 25 years of satellite data and measurements from 235 lakes on six continents.
The findings show that lakes are warming far faster than either the oceans or the atmosphere — at a rate of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. The warming is projected to have profound impacts, including a 20 percent increase in algal blooms that can rob lakes of oxygen and kill fish. Continue reading “New NASA study tracks world’s warming lakes”→
Land use around lakes seen as critical factor in greenhouse gas equation
The world’s lakes already emit carbon dioxide equivalent to about 25 percent of the CO2 produced by fossil fuel combustion, and that amount could grow significantly in a warming world.
Researchers came to that conclusion after studying a huge amount of data from more than 5,000 lakes in Sweden, and tracking the origins of CO2 releases. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, shows that the amount of CO2 produced in the lakes by micro-organisms, and from the influx of CO2 from surrounding lands, both increase in warmer and nutrient-rich climate zones. Continue reading “Climate: Warming lakes will release more CO2”→
Limestone peaks tower above the Hinterer Langbathsee in the Salzburg Alps.
A touch of fall colors …
One guidebook says the water in these lakes is drinkable.
Shooting into the midday sun.
Just an hour away from Linz, the Alps rise, an impressive wall of limestone peaks towering above the rolling countryside of Upper Austria. Glacier-fed streams have carved deep gorges through the soft rock, and valley bottoms are punctuated by stunning lakes. But all is not well in this fairytale landscape. By some measurements, Austria is a global warming hotspot, and that spells trouble for the country’s glaciers and lakes. In a country that uses hydropower extensively, big changes to flow regimes in rivers and streams could have a huge economic impact. This summer’s drought and extreme heatwave in Austria was one of the worst on record, and many alpine glaciers visibly wasted away under relentless summer sun. Many lakes are expected to warm by 3 degrees Celsius by mid-century, with massive ecosystem changes in store. Learn more about climate change impacts in Austria here.
Key lakes expected to warm by up to degrees 3 degrees Celsius by mid-century
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Austria’s famed alpine lakes are facing fundamental change as global temperatures continue warm — and recent warming in the Alpine region (between 1980 and 1999) has increased three times as fast as the global average.
Dokulil analyzed long-term data records for air temperature and surface water temperatures dating back to the mid-1960s from the Austrian Hydrological Yearbooks. He projected temperature trends for nine large lakes, finding that lake surface temperatures are likely to rise by up to 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 as a direct result of climate change. Continue reading “Global warming: Austria’s famed lakes heating up quickly”→