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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

World's Larger Lakes Are Shrinking While Smaller Ones Are Expanding

More than half of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs have lost huge volumes of water over the last three decades, a study led by Fangyang Fao, a visiting scholar at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, showed.

Photo Insert: The Colorado River’s Lake Mead in Southwest US has receded amid a megadrought and decades of overuse.

The study pins the blame on climate change and excessive water use. Roughly a quarter of the world’s population lives in the basin of a drying lake, the report published in the journal Science stressed.

While lakes cover only around 3% of the planet, they hold nearly 90% of its liquid surface freshwater and are basic sources of drinking water, irrigation, and power, and they provide vital habitats for animals and plants, Laura Paddison reported for CNN.

Lake water levels fluctuate due to natural climate variations in rain and snowfall, but they are increasingly affected by human actions. The most significant lakes are seeing sharp declines.

The Colorado River’s Lake Mead in Southwest US has receded amid a megadrought and decades of overuse.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The researchers used satellite measurements of nearly 2,000 of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs, which together represent 95% of Earth’s total lake water storage.

The Caspian Sea, between Asia and Europe – the world’s largest inland body of water – has long been declining due to climate change and water use. Not all lakes are declining; around a third of lake declines were offset by increases elsewhere, the report found.

Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

However, some lakes have been growing, with 24% seeing significant increases in water storage. These tended to be lakes in less populated regions, the report found, including areas in the Northern Great Plains of North America and the inner Tibetan Plateau.

They found that 53% of the lakes and reservoirs had lost significant amounts of water, with a net decline of around 22 billion metric tons a year – an amount the report authors compared to the volume of 17 Lake Mead.

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