More than half of the world’s largest lakes are losing water. The main causes are climate change and human activities. A new method of tracking trends in lake water storage could help scientists protect water resources. The news is bleak; this new method can help water managers and communities make better decisions.
Lead author Fangfang Yao, a CIRES visiting fellow, now a climate fellow at the University of Virginia, said: “This is the first comprehensive assessment of trends and causes of global lake water storage variability from a range of satellites and models.”
Balaji Rajagopalan, a CIRES fellow, professor of engineering at CU Boulder, and co-author, said: “We have fairly good information on iconic lakes such as the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea and the Salton Sea, but if you want to say something on a global scale, you need reliable estimates of the levels and volume of lakes. With this new method, we can provide insight into changes in the global level of lakes from a broader perspective.”
Scientists used satellite data to track the water levels of 1,972 of the world’s largest lakes between 1992 and 2020. They found that 53% of lakes lost water during this period, with a total loss equivalent to 17 Lake Meads. The researchers say climate change and human water consumption are the main drivers of this decline.
Lakes all over the world are losing water, including dry and wet areas. This is due to a combination of factors including climate change, human consumption and sedimentation. Lake water loss is a serious problem as lakes are important sources of water for drinking, irrigation and recreation. The study’s authors estimate that 2 billion people live in the basin of a drying lake.
The study also offers some hope, as it shows that it is possible to reverse the trend of water loss in lakes. For example, the authors point to Lake Seven in Armenia, where more water has been stored in recent years due to conservation laws.
The authors of the study call for more research into the causes of water loss in lakes and for the development of policies to address this problem. They also urge governments and individuals to take steps to conserve water.
Satellite data shows that more than half of the world’s largest lakes are losing water. This decline is most pronounced in the Northern Hemisphere and is likely due to climate change and human activities.
Lake water loss is a serious problem as lakes are important sources of water for drinking, irrigation and recreation. The study offers new insights into the global water crisis and emphasizes the need for more sustainable water management.
Here are some specific things that can be done to help:
• Reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers, repairing leaking faucets and watering lawns less often.
• Save water in the workplace by turning off lights and appliances when not in use and using water-efficient fixtures.
• Support policies that promote water conservation and sustainable water management.
By taking these steps, we can help protect our lakes and ensure they continue to provide us with the water we need.
- Fangfang Yao, Ben Livneh et al. Satellites reveal widespread decline in global lake water storage. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.abo2812