Lake Baikal Warming at 3x Rate of Surface Air

Interesting article in Discovery News about the warming of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast and the Buryat Republic. A Russian family has been keeping samples of the lake for about 60 years, just as a sort of nerd-hobby thing, and researchers at Wellesley and UC Santa Barbara made good use of the data to discover that Baikal is warming at three times the global average air temperature rise, probably due to the shorter winters — Baikal is covered in ice for much of the year.

Lake Baikal is the world’s largest lake, a fact that kind of surprised me (and chagrinned my Michigander friend) when I discovered it a few years ago. It contains 20% of the Earth’s surface fresh water; Baikal doesn’t look so unaccountably massive on a map, but it’s exceedingly deep. Formed in an ancient rift valley like Lake Tanganyika, it has that long crescent-shaped rift valley sort of look to it.

Lake Baikal is the most diverse lake ecosystem in the world, with many species that are found nowhere else including the only world’s only freshwater seal. The warming, of course, is causing all sorts of ecological clusterfuckage, and illustrates how catastrophic climate change already is. If a lake this size is already profoundly affected, it’s not a good sign.

Image from Wikipedia.


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