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Dec 22, 2015 07:36 AM EST

Climate change is causing heating of lakes

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According to a new study, climate change is heating lakes more rapidly than it is warming the atmosphere or the oceans, Discovery News reports.

The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The new study shows that lakes are warming at an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit each decade. The warming of the lakes could pose a threat to the habitats of fish and other aquatic animals, as well cause a dearth of drinking water for millions of people.

"We found that ice-covered lakes, including Canadian lakes, are warming twice as fast as air temperatures and the North American Great Lakes are among the fastest warming lakes in the world," biologist Sapna Sharma, a biologist at Canada's York University, said in a press release.

For the study, the researchers focused upon 236 lakes, which contain more than half of the world's freshwater supply and monitored over a 25-year period.

"We found that ice-covered lakes, including Canadian lakes, are warming twice as fast as air temperatures and the North American Great Lakes are among the fastest warming lakes in the world," Sharma said.

Researchers said that the warming could increase algal blooms by 20 percent, including a 5 percent boost in toxic blooms that could pose a threat to both aquatic life and to cleanliness of water supplies.

The study is the first to combine manual lake measurements with satellite measurements of lake temperatures collected by NASA over a quarter century.

 "These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening," the study's lead author Catherine O'Reilly, associate professor of geology at Illinois State University, said in a NASA press release.

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