Researchers from Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that climate change is inducing oxygen deprivation in lakes.
The team found that during the late weeks of ever-warmer summers, the water stratification in lakes can result in the depletion of oxygen levels in the water.
The unfortunate change can have negative consequences for fish and other species that depend on the lakes’ ecosystems. The researchers looked at around 25 years of data covering over 400 lakes, predominantly in the US. Lakes in the study included: Jockeybush and Sagamore, Cannonsville in Delaware County and Rondaxe Lake in New York.
According to Stephen Jane, the study lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability:
“Lakes with dissolved oxygen losses strongly outnumber those with gains. At large scales, aerobic organisms are losing available habitat as warming of lakes continues. This is particularly the case for organisms that rely on well-oxygenated cool waters deep in lakes to survive warm periods. Water temperature and density are related. So it becomes a situation where basically you have oil and vinegar, where strong water temperature differences between layers causes resistance to mixing – which is stratification.”
While Kevin Rose, the study co-author and associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, stated:
“We show here that as warming is continuing, the amount of time that lakes exhibit stratification is increasing and this leads to increases in the amount of low-oxygen water in lakes. The bad news is that given projected warming rates, we’ll likely see even greater increases in the amount of oxygen-depleted water in lakes in the future.”
You can find the original study here.