November 23rd, 2010
11:08 PM ET

NASA study finds Earth's lakes are warming

Satellite data largely agreed with temperature trends taken from buoys in the Great Lakes, NASA says.

The temperatures of Earth's largest lakes have risen in the past 25 years as a result of climate change, according to a new NASA study.

NASA used satellite data to measure the surface temperatures of 167 lakes worldwide and found an average warming rate of .81 degrees Fahrenheit per decade and in some lakes, as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, NASA said Tuesday.

The greatest increases were in the mid- to high- latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, in a pattern consistent with changes associated with global warming, said Simon Hook, a scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

"The key thing is it’s an independent study that provides a new of piece evidence that warming's taking place; and it's made possible through a comprehensive view that the satellite data provides, by allowing us to look over the entire world, as opposed to a particular region," he said.

"From a scientific point of view, small differences in lake temperatures can have big change in a lake's ecosystem - a new fish species that people don't want, new plants; so from our point of view, what we want to do next is understand what the impact of these changes is going to be on the lake's ecosystem."

The study's results incorporated other techniques to verify the satellite data, such as direct measurements of water temperature, wherever possible, Hook said.

The lakes were chosen for inclusion in the study based on their size - typically at least 193 square miles or larger, so conditions on land would not influence the results. The study used nighttime data from summer months over the past 25 years to avoid interference from cloud cover or ice.

Of the 167 lakes surveyed, researchers were able to use data from 104, with 41 producing results that were "statistically significant," he said. Four lakes showed signs of cooling, but the differences were small enough to render them neutral, Hook said.

The satellite temperature trends largely agreed with trends measured by buoys in the Great Lakes, Earth's largest group of freshwater lakes in terms of total surface area and volume.

"There are ways to verify data independently of the satellite data, and we used those to confirm our findings," he said. "From this particular data set, we can say in the last 25 years, looking at these lakes, there seems to be a significant warming trend."

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Filed under: Climate change • Science • Space • Weather
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. The Dude

    "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds"

    November 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |


      November 24, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      I'm not going to waste my time arguing with a man who's lining up to be a hot lunch.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      cold,hot,cold,hot,cold,hot I think I see a pattern.

      November 24, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Blah Blah global warming doesn't exist. Blah Blah Obama is a muslim. Blah Blah Go Palin 2012!

      November 24, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • coral

      What a poor study. No report on where the lakes were located, what other significant source of heat might have been nearby, maybe the nuclear power plant right there on the shore? More interestingly to me there was only a 39% rate of "statistically significant" results. And they think that that is data enough to make a statement like they did? I thought NASA used good scientists. This is absurd. I am saddened that my good tax money is being squandered by fools such as this.

      November 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |

    it's just like that movie 2012..

    November 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Martin, it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • bill raleigh

      I think were gonna need a bigger boat

      November 24, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. cindy

    U know nothn about 2012 r whats goin to happen n u never will but i do n im not telln me 2 know u to find out

    November 24, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Fellows, let's be reasonable, huh? This is not the time or the place to perform some kind of a half-@ssed autopsy on a fish... And I'm not going to stand here and see that thing cut open and see that little Kintner boy spill out all over the dock.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • 314swfl144

      Does anyone have an ebonics to English translator handy?

      November 24, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • simon

      Getcho mumbly jumbly ghetto textspeak off the comments page.

      November 24, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • translator


      She said: You know nothing about 2012, or whats going to happen. And you will never know. But I do know what will happen in 2012, and I'm not telling you. It's for me to know, and for you to find out.

      It's pretty creepy actually...

      November 24, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mmmmm

    Sound the alarm when lake temperature reaches boiling point...ready to eat seafood without BP additives would be nice!

    November 24, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Is it true that most people get attacked by sharks in three feet of water about ten feet from the beach?

      November 24, 2010 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
    • countrygirl78

      I remember studying the ice age in school. According to the U of A, there were glaciers in southern AZ in the Wisconsin glacial period. Glaciers in southern Arizona!

      The pemdulum swings both ways. No matter if there were people or not, the earth goes through cycles.

      November 26, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy

    Couldn't tell it by Lake Michigan's temp...

    November 24, 2010 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      You're gonna need a bigger boat.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. LOW LYF


    November 24, 2010 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Kraken

      That was me. Sorry.

      November 24, 2010 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Come on into the water!

      November 24, 2010 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kraken

    Come on in! The water's fine! (blub)

    November 24, 2010 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      This shark, swallow you whole.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Fine it is! (blup, blip, blup)

      November 24, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Rocketship

    We all know that NASA is a GSE (G ol dman Sacks Enti tty).
    Why would anyone trust a company that FAKED A MOON LANDING.
    Very unlikely anyone knows the real temperature of the great lakes.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Did you notify the Coast Guard about this?

      November 24, 2010 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
    • 314swfl144

      Quick, put another layer of tinfoil around your head. Your whackjob-o-meter is pinging and they are going to start listening to your thoughts again.

      November 24, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Dwntorearh

      Rocketship is right. How could anyone know the temprature of the Great Lakes. What do you think, that they have some kind of crazy device that can measeure the temprature of water or somthing? Thats crazy talke. They are probably just sticking there finger in the water and guessing! Or they made the whole thing up from the studio where they faked the moon landing using claymation like gumby. Rocketship isn't crazy at all.

      November 24, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • yaright

      You are literally too stupid to insult. But I will anyway.

      November 24, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • vonStemwede

      I seriously suggest watching "Myth Busters." They busted every myth about the "fake" moon landing.

      November 24, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter E

      I always find it amusing that the 'America is perfectly perfect' right-wing crowd is also the one most likely to believe that America did not land on the Moon. But then again, the whole myth was started by Fox's insistence that 'fair and balanced' means giving equal time to the most ludicrous ideas. And that is yet another curiosity: I thought the right-wing didn't believe in liberal equal-time political correctness.

      November 24, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Nilesh

    I like

    November 24, 2010 at 4:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      you know, you oughta let that breathe a little

      November 24, 2010 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. ***dude***

    Hey rocketship, its a little early to be "smokin de dope"

    November 24, 2010 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      I can't imagine why.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rocketship

    Wake and Bake as they say. Whoever they are.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      What day is this?

      November 24, 2010 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. L Ron Lloyd Blankinstien

    Please do not diparage my company. We do not own the country. We own the universe.
    Just ask T ony Rob bins. Who we hired to hire The Donald to speak at our luncheon yesterday.
    We are not a money sucking funnel vampire.
    As you may be aware we do Gods work.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      You told me the shark was caught. And I, I heard it on the news... I heard it on the Cape station.

      November 24, 2010 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Disparage it Bozo the BP clown!

      November 24, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Major Captain John Smith

    We will use the military to defend the Great lakes.
    The world will decend into anarchy by 2020 with wars over food oil and you guessed it, water.
    The water will not be guarded for use by people living in the mid-west.
    It will be be piped to Vegas, Washington D.C. and some small amount, only a few gallons really, will be flown over to S au di A ra bia for use by the king.

    November 24, 2010 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Little brown eel comes out of the cave... Swims into the hole... Comes out of the hole... Goes back into the cave again... It's not too good is it Chief?

      November 24, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. BB F Skinner

    We must find a way beyond freedom and dignity to subvert people into servitude.
    The myth of climate change is an excellent start.

    November 24, 2010 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Quint

      Will you go to the end of the pulpit, please?

      November 24, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Michigan girl

    Icebergs in arctic regions are melting temps around the world hit all time highs this summer why are rising water temperatures such a revalation hmmmm

    November 24, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Can't wait! ready to eat seafood! Yum-yum!

      November 24, 2010 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • vonStemwede

      It's all part of a natural cycle. Nothing to worry about.

      November 24, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
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