Rising temeperatures in the world’s largest and oldest lake, Lake Baikal in Siberia, provide further and dramatic evidence of global warming. Large enough to contain all the water in the Great Lakes and holding some 20% of the world’s fresh water, Lake Baikal was expected to withstand rising temperatures by virtue of its sheer size and location.
This lake was expected to be among those most resistant to climate change, due to its huge volume and unique water circulation, but long-term data collection reveals that warming is taking place.
The data was collected faithfully over a 60 year period.
“Our research relies on a 60 year data set, collected in Lake Baikal by three generations of a single family of Siberian scientists,” said study co-author Marianne Moore, a biologist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
The changes since the time that data collection started:
“Increases in water temperature (1.21°C since 1946), chlorophyll a (300 percent since 1979), and an influential group of zooplankton grazers (335 percent since 1946) have important implications for nutrient cycling and food web dynamics,” they write.
The lake hosts many species not seen elsewhere.
At least 2,500 plant and animal species inhabit the lake. Most of these species, including the freshwater seal, are found nowhere else in the world.
The results of the study confirm what has been found in other large lakes around the world.
The scientists conclude that the lake now joins other large lakes, including Lake Superior, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Tahoe, in showing warming trends. “But,” they note, “temperature changes in Lake Baikal are particularly significant as a signal of long-term regional warming.”