Friday, March 11, 2011

China's shrinking lakes

China's shrinking lakesA new report says that over the period from 1960-2005 Chinese lakes have shrunk in size and in number. The total area of Chinese lakes over that period shrank by 13 percent of their original size, an area just a bit smaller than Connecticut.

Sixty new lakes appeared, mainly in the high altitudes of Tibet. This new water might come from melting glaciers. But, 243 lakes with a size larger than one square kilometer (roughly half a square mile) vanished all together.

A collaboration of Chinese and American scientists used pictures taken by satellites and a variety of other methods to compare past lake conditions, from the 1960s to the 1980s, to conditions recorded more recently in the period 2005-06.

China is a big place and the lake shrinkage works differently in the northern and southern parts of the country. In the north, which tends to be more arid, the decline of lakes seems to be chiefly caused by changes in climate. Over the period 1951-2000, the average temperature in the north has increased by 0.02 degrees Celsius per year, more than twice the temperature increase for the south of China.

In the south the decline of lakes is more likely to be related to human activities such as increasing industrial production and lakeside reclamation, including the building of new homes and factories. The new report on lake loss in China is published as a cover story in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

via China's shrinking lakes.

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