More than half of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs are losing water to climate change, a large-scale study of lakes around the world has found.
According to the results of this study published in the journal Science Thursday, climate change and human consumption are the main drivers of water loss.
The international researchers who conducted the large-scale study examined 250,000 satellite images of regions containing lakes taken from 1992 to 2020 to examine the area and water levels of 1,972 freshwater bodies.
The study warns that around a quarter of the world’s population, or 2 billion people, live in the basin of a drying lake. While water insecurity is already a problem, hundreds of millions of people around the world are at risk of having more reliable access to safe water.
Scientists conducting the study claimed that 53% of the world’s lakes experienced a decline in water storage between 1992 and 2020, representing a loss of water equivalent in volume to 17 times Lake Mead, the world’s largest reservoir. of the United States whose depth is estimated 162 meters deep.
The results underscore an urgent need to integrate the impacts of climate change and sedimentation into the sustainable management of water resources “to protect essential ecosystem services such as freshwater storage, food supply, waterbird habitat, pollutant and nutrient cycling, and recreation,” according to an editor’s summary accompanying the study.
“Net volume loss in natural lakes is largely attributable to global warming, increased evaporation demand and human water consumption, while sedimentation dominates storage losses in reservoirs,” say the researchers.
According to them, climate change is a determining factor that increases the probability and severity of droughts. These periods tend to be warmer as the climate warms, which increases water evaporation and causes the aggravation of the drought of water points and groundwater, thus threatening life on earth.