According to a recently published academic study, more than half of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs are shrinking, posing a threat to global water security. Climate change and unsustainable consumption are identified as the main culprits. The study, conducted by scientists from the United States, France, and Saudi Arabia, reveals that approximately 53% of the lakes and reservoirs analyzed have experienced a decline in water storage at a rate of approximately 22 gigatons per year.
Global warming and human consumption of water were found to be key factors in this decline. Rising temperatures due to climate change promote evaporation and may reduce precipitation in some regions. In addition, significant water loss was observed in lakes in humid regions, challenging the paradigm that “dry gets drier and wet gets wetter.”
The study also highlights that approximately a quarter of the lakes and reservoirs analyzed experienced an increase in their water storage. This was observed in regions such as the Tibetan Plateau, where receding glaciers and the melting of permafrost have driven the expansion of alpine lakes.
The research highlights the critical importance of lakes and reservoirs for global water security. These freshwater bodies store 87% of the planet’s liquid freshwater. Therefore, it is critical to develop sustainable consumption and climate change mitigation strategies to preserve these vital resources.
The study provides a more robust scientific understanding of lake volume variability, but it is noted that it is also important to investigate the effects on small lakes and reservoirs, which are also important for water supply.
In summary, the decline of lakes and reservoirs globally due to climate change and unsustainable consumption poses a threat to global water security. Urgent action is needed to ensure sustainable water consumption and address climate change in order to preserve these crucial resources for humanity.
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