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. Richard in Texas

    BB F SKINNER. Please explain how global warming is going to subvert people into servitude. Who are the people going to be servant to ?

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

      The Government – Because people like Al Gore want to control us all.

      November 25, 2010 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. mario

    AAAWWW BS! the libs will say anything for more funding to do "studies" such as this nonsense!

    November 24, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pike Boy

    The warmer temperatures will push through the dilation window and drive the circulation counter clockwise. This in turn will cause a downturn in the rate of wash. Therefore it will counterbalance and all will be well within the internal gastrosphere. Nothing else could be more plain!

    November 24, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • hooper

      umm ....yeah ....thats's what i was saying just last night at dinner

      November 24, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. donna

    Global Warming = no more cold winters, balmy California weather year round. Doesn't sound bad at all.

    November 24, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    conservatives/tea baggers/Repubs won't believe science if it came and bit them on the ass

    November 24, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Pike Boy

      Very good point!

      November 24, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Damn Yankee

    If the Earth heats up or cools down it is beyond mankind's control. When will these alarmists wake up? The forces at work to heat and cool a planet are enormous and man has nothing to do with it. If science can't tell us why the Earth has had ice ages in the past and why they are gone now how can the future be predicted? I won't dispute that the Earth may be warming now but I will fight anyone who says mankind is the cause.

    November 24, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Last Mohican

    The people will serve the corporations who run the government. And so as always the people will serve the ultra rich.
    This is not unusual or even a bad state of affairs. In fact it is the natural order of things. Drug companies, meth labs and budtenders provide the slave masters whip in the form of panacea.
    This is the control of society sought beyond the code words freedom and dignity.
    To the poster suggesting humankind will be extinguished. This is what you have to understand. Without humans or sentient beings to be aware of its existence the universe would not exist. Please do not banish the universe so quickly.

    November 24, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. andragogy

    Whoppee for ignorance! Who needs to gather stupid knowledge about our planet! I disregard what educated and knowledgeable so-called "scientists" are saying because they're "facts" don't fit in with my predetermined sense of reality that I developed from sitting inside my house. By staring at various screens that spew real facts and by examining my whitewashed drywall, I have a well-rounded sense of what is happening in the forests, lakes, mountains, and even in the molten core of the earth which I can detect with my psychic powers. Or maybe I just let Glenn Beck tell me what to think since I can't think for myself. In REALITY, because I have been getting out into the world for the last twenty years, you can see places change, glaciers melt, and forests burn up and not return.

    November 24, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Last Mohican

    Not climate change that enslaves but the fear swirling around the concept that makes humans more pliable.

    November 24, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Last Mohican

    You see Richard. Man will work for wife and child and do it in a mud hut if he is worried about Global warming.

    November 24, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Edward

    I love all the apocalyptic movies like Planet of the Apes, the day after tomorrow, soylent green, 2012, Omega man, deep impact, etc. I think they are entertaining. Watch conspiracy theory with Jesse Ventura and it appears the government is preparing for such an event.

    November 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Richard in Texas

    ChicagoK.you are being played by the wacko radicals on the right with the whole junk science and earth natural cycle arguement. Nobody in the scientific field disputes that the earth has a natural cycle. The arguement is if the cycle is being accecerated by mankind.

    November 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BB F Skinner

    Richard,
    There will always be a certain large percentage of the population that will be unaware. In the United States this part of the populace is called the middle class. It's no fun If you know you are a slave.

    November 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Richard in Texas

    N. Your point is not well put. It is silly. Using your arguement there would be a never ending cycle of researching. When do you make report? When and only when you get the data you want?

    November 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard in Texas

    55 Phil. You have no idea of what you are saying. Pollution is trapping the heat in the enviroment causing global climate change.

    November 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
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