Satellites reveal widespread decline in global lake water storage

Yao, F., Livneh, B., Rajagopalan, B., Wang, J., Crétaux, J.-F., Wada, Y. ORCID:, & Berge-Nguyen, M. (2023). Satellites reveal widespread decline in global lake water storage. Science 380 (6646) 743-749. 10.1126/science.abo2812.

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Climate change and human activities increasingly threaten lakes that store 87% of Earth's liquid surface fresh water. Yet, recent trends and drivers of lake volume change remain largely unknown globally. Here, we analyze the 1972 largest global lakes using three decades of satellite observations, climate data, and hydrologic models, finding statistically significant storage declines for 53% of these water bodies over the period 1992-2020. The net volume loss in natural lakes is largely attributable to climate warming, increasing evaporative demand, and human water consumption, whereas sedimentation dominates storage losses in reservoirs. We estimate that roughly one-quarter of the world's population resides in a basin of a drying lake, underscoring the necessity of incorporating climate change and sedimentation impacts into sustainable water resources management.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 19 May 2023 11:46
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 11:46

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