Quirks and Quarks

World's Lakes Are In Hot Water

Lakes are warming much faster than oceans or air.

Climate change is warming lakes much faster than anticipated

Algal bloom on Lake Erie in 2011 (NOAA/Associated Press)
Twenty-five years of data, gathered by scientists around the world, together with NASA satellite information, has resulted in research that shows the world's fresh water supply is warming faster than the oceans and the air.

The study by Dr. Sapna Sharma, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at York University in Toronto, and colleagues, looked at surface water temperatures of 235 lakes around the world, including the Great Lakes. This represents about one-half of the global fresh water supply. In the years 1985 to 2009, they found that fresh water has warmed an average of .34 degrees Celsius per decade, compared to .24 for the air temperature and .11 for oceans.

This makes fresh water lakes more susceptible to algal blooms, less hospitable to native fish, but more attractive to invasive species.

Related Links

Paper in Geophysical Research Letters
- Illinois State University release
- York University release
Nature news story
CBC News story
Toronto Star story