Conservation Training

On thin ice: Are lakes feeling the heat?

April 18, 2023

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Webinar

Our planet is experiencing accelerated climate warming, with dramatic consequences not only on lake ecology but also on the ecosystem services we rely on from our freshwater resources. Lakes with seasonal ice cover, which represent more than half of the world’s lakes, are especially sensitive to a changing climate, as ice cover is a strong determinant of lake ecosystem functioning. Lakes are losing ice cover at unprecedented rates. On average, ice duration is shorter by 17 days per century. However, in the past 25 years, lake ice loss is 6 times faster, with some lakes not freezing every winter. By the end of the century, over 200,000 lakes may no longer regularly freeze and almost 6,000 lakes may permanently lose ice cover with climate warming. With reduced ice cover, lakes may stratify earlier which can lead to elevated water temperatures, primary production, and the likelihood of algal blooms, some of which may be toxic. Mitigation of greenhouse gases is essential to preserving this ecological, cultural, and economically important resource.

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