Tag: lakes

Study tracks startling salinization trend in U.S. lakes

Road salt, development blamed for spiking chloride levels

Water quality in freshwater lakes near roads where salt is used is rapidly deteriorating. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

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.

The majority of the lakes (284) were located in a North American Lakes Region that includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ontario, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Continue reading “Study tracks startling salinization trend in U.S. lakes”

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Life under the ice

Scientists eye winter ecosystems in ice-covered lakes

Pond glow.
Evening glow on a the slowly melting surface of Dillon Resevoir, in Summit County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

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”

New NASA study tracks world’s warming lakes

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Austria’s Neusiedler See is one of many lakes facing a serious global warming threat. @bberwyn photo.

Profound ecosystem changes expected

Staff Report

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”

Climate: Warming lakes will release more CO2

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Lakes in high latitudes are likely to become even more significant sources of CO2 in a warming world. @bberwyn photo.

Land use around lakes seen as critical factor in greenhouse gas equation

Staff Report

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”

Morning photo: Lake light

Day trip …

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.

Global warming: Austria’s famed lakes heating up quickly

Key lakes expected to warm by up to degrees 3 degrees Celsius by mid-century

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Global warming is projected to fundamentally alter the waters of famed Austrian lakes like the Mondsee, near Salzburg. Bob Berwyn photo.

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.

Projected increases in water temperatures will likely alter basic structure, function and water quality in famed lakes like the Mondsee, near Salzburg, according to Dr. Martin Dokulil, a retired researcher from the Institute for Limnology at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

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”

Morning photo: Lakes!

(or reservoirs … )

Clinton Gulch Reservoir at twilight. Summit County, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — For the purposes of my environmental reporting, I’m often careful to make a clear distinction between lakes and reservoirs — for good reason here in Colorado, where the majority of the population depends on stored water to drink, shower and for watering lawns.

Lakes follow a natural life cycle and rhythm, driven by precipitation, temperatures, inflows and other natural factors. But reservoirs are completely controlled by human actions and their levels rise and fall depending on human needs.

It’s an interesting distinction, and a lot of people still don’t get it, as evidenced by the fact that Dillon Reservoir, near my home in Frisco, Colorado, is still called Lake Dillon by many locals and visitors, and some still appear surprised when the water level falls by several feet within a few short weeks during dry years (like now).

But for the sake of the popular #FriFotos Twitter chat, I’ve included pictures of both lakes and reservoirs, focusing on their aesthetic qualities rather than technical definitions. Join the fun by posting your own photos, tagged with #FriFotos and enjoy lake pictures from around the world. Continue reading “Morning photo: Lakes!”