Global lake thermal regions shift under climate change


Maberly SC, O’Donnell RA, Woolway RI, Cutler MEJ, Gong M, Jones ID, Merchant CJ, Miller CA, Politi E, Scott EM, Thackeray SJ & Tyler AN (2020) Global lake thermal regions shift under climate change. Nature Communications, 11 (1), Art. No.: 1232.

Water temperature is critical for the ecology of lakes. However, the ability to predict its spatial and seasonal variation is constrained by the lack of a thermal classification system. Here we define lake thermal regions using objective analysis of seasonal surface temperature dynamics from satellite observations. Nine lake thermal regions are identified that mapped robustly and largely contiguously globally, even for small lakes. The regions differed from other global patterns, and so provide unique information. Using a lake model forced by 21st century climate projections, we found that 12%, 27% and 66% of lakes will change to a lower latitude thermal region by 2080–2099 for low, medium and high greenhouse gas concentration trajectories (Representative Concentration Pathways 2.6, 6.0 and 8.5) respectively. Under the worst-case scenario, a 79% reduction in the number of lakes in the northernmost thermal region is projected. This thermal region framework can facilitate the global scaling of lake-research.

limnology; projection and prediction

Nature Communications: Volume 11, Issue 1

FundersEuropean Space Agency
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online06/03/2020
Date accepted by journal21/02/2020
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC