Archive for ‘Lakes’

Revealed: Shocking satellite images of lakes show extent of man’s impact on world’s water supply

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

These dramatic before-and-after satellite photos show the terrifying effect man is having on the world’s resources.

Taken over nearly 40 years, photographs show the drying up of several bodies of water around the world – receding as mankind’s demand for water grows.

Included in the shocking collection is the once mighty Aral Sea in Central Asia.

The expanse of water, like several others across the globe, has been reduced to worryingly sparse levels. In April the situation at the Aral Sea was described as ‘one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters’ by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

1973: Satellite image of the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJbT54ux

1973: Satellite image of the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world

1999: More than 25 years on the sea has noticeably shrunk to less than half its size  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJbkxZhc

1999: More than 25 years on the sea has noticeably shrunk to less than half its size

2009: Satellite image taken last year shows a situation described as one of the planets worst  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJcJS9pj

2009: Satellite image taken last year shows a situation described as 'one of the planet's worst'

Shown here in images taken from space between 1973 and 2009, slowly but surely the Aral – in fact a salt water lake – has shrunk from being the size of Ireland to a cluster of contaminated ponds.

An inland lake, the Aral is found between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and used to be the fourth largest lake in the world. Since the 1960s, it has lost more than half of its volume.

The drying is due to overuse of the lake’s feeder rivers. In the 1960s the former Soviet Union diverted the Syr Darya and Amu Darya for the irrigation of cotton and paddy fields.

Now 50 years later the water is at a dismal 10 per cent of its level when the projects first began.

So great was the impact on the region the local climate was thought to have changed and pollution has risen to dangerous levels.

The destruction of the lake has also decimated the local fishing industry, causing severe knock-on unemployment and further economic woe for the people living around it.

Across the globe once rich and fertile lands are facing the same catastrophe.

Arid and desolate Iraq was once a green, lush environment even reputed to be the setting of the Garden of Eden.

Seen from above between 1973 and 2000 the Mesopotamia marshlands straddle the borders between Iraq and Iran near the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

1990: Satellite image of drained areas (grey) amongst marshland (dark red) around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. Darker areas show deep water  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJdKeEmO

1990: Satellite image of drained areas (grey) amongst marshland (dark red) around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. Darker areas show deep water

2000: The same image shows how dramatically the water has receded in just 20 years. The rivers were drained to provide agricultural land  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJdShqna

2000: The same image shows how dramatically the water has receded in just 20 years. The rivers were drained to provide agricultural land

The marshes were systematically drained in the mid- to late 20th century. This was done to provide agricultural land, but also to destroy the habitat of the Shi’a Muslim Marsh Arabs, who were persecuted by the Iraqi ruling Ba’athist Party.

Also included in the before-and-after pictures are the Toshka Lakes, in southern Egypt.

They were formed in the 1990s by diverting water from Lake Nasser, an artificial lake formed behind the Aswan High Dam on the river Nile.

The region was planned to be a major new agricultural and industrial site for Egypt. But as these images show, the region is drying fast.

One image taken in March 2001, shows the lakes near their maximum capacity. A later satellite picture from December 2005 shows how the waters receded due to drought and rising demand for water, leaving a ring of brown wetlands around the edges of the lakes.

Lake Chad, located in the Sahel region near the Sahara, was the fourth largest lake in Africa in the 1960s and had an area of more than 10,000 square miles.

But by the 21st century it had shrunk to less than 600 square miles – around a twentieth of its size. This was caused by increased use of irrigation combined with severe droughts.

The Toshka Lakes in southern Egypt were formed in the 1990s by diverting water from Lake Nasser, an artificial lake that formed behind the Aswan High Dam on the river Nile.

The region was planned to be a major new agricultural and industrial site for Egypt but as these images show – between 2001 and 2005 – the region is drying fast.

The waters have receded, leaving a ring of brown wetlands around the edges of the lakes, because of drought and a rising demand for water in the area.

Dr Benjamin Lloyd-Hughes of the Walker Institute for climate system research, University of Reading, said: ‘Ultimately the disaster seen at the Aral Sea and the marshes are the combined effects of man and rising temperatures in those regions.

‘There has not been much change in rainfall in those areas but the temperature has risen by over 1 degree Centigrade since 1970, which will have enhanced losses due to evaporation.

‘Pollution in the area will have become worse because as the water evaporates, pollutants in the water become more concentrated and less diluted.’

At Lake Chad and the Toshka Lakes the same effect of man in combination with climate change has been observed.

Dr Lloyd-Hughes added:

‘There has been a 30% reduction in annual rainfall since 1900 in these regions but not a significant change in temperature.

‘Reductions in lake levels here seem to driven by reductions in rainfall rather than increased evaporation.

‘The outlook is that there will be no change in rainfall but temperature could increase by another two degrees Centigrade by 2100. This is not good but not so bad as for the Aral Sea and Mesopotamia.

‘Global warming is a problem that is happening everywhere but if drought is happening in your region then it is a far greater problem.’

With the growth of mass-agriculture to feed a severely ballooning global population, water demand has begun to perilously outstrip supply, making disasters like the Aral Sea a grim and alarming likelihood for the future.

Source: Revealed: Shocking satellite images of lakes show extent of man’s impact on world’s water supply – dailymail.co.uk

Date: 03 July 2010

Two mln people threatened as China’s largest lake keeps rising

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

More than 2 million people in eastern Jiangxi Province are at risk as China’s largest freshwater lake continues to rise causing parts of the protective embankment to leak, provincial authorities said Wednesday.

Hundreds of soldiers and local residents are patching the leaking sections of the embankment for Poyang Lake in Poyang County. Should they fail, homes and property of nearly 10,000 people will be flooded.

A part of the embankment in Yugan County is also being repaired after three seepages were found Monday. Leaks have also been detected on other sections, according to a statement from Jiangxi’s Drought Prevention and Flood Control Headquarters.

Villagers, officials and soldiers are patrolling all sections of the embankment around the giant Poyang Lake, an important source of water on middle reaches of the Yangtze River, China’s longest, to prevent and fix leaks. The lake covers an area of around 3,050 square km when it’s at an average level. It can expand to 3,583 square km during the rainy season.

Dai Huaixiang, 63, has been paroling the embankment for three days. He does so to protect his hometown Tubei Village, 500 meters away from the embankment.

“No matter how tired, we must keep on watching and prevent the embankment from being breached. Floods are more dangerous than tigers,” Dai said. He fought a massive flood that left more than 3,000 people dead in southern China in 1998.

The lake’s water level has risen to 20.29 meters, 1.29 meters above the alert level, and a record high since 1999, said Luo Xiaoyun, secretary-general of the Drought Prevention and Flood Control Headquarters in Jiangxi Province.

The water level is expected to keep rising as China’s Central Meteorological Observatory has forecast rains in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Rains are also forecast in northern Jiangxi.

The government has invested more than 2 billion yuan (294.2 million U.S. dollars) to strengthen the embankment around Poyang Lake since the flood in 1998. But some parts of the embankment have degraded due to lack of maintenance, said Wen Lin, deputy head of Jiangxi’s water resources department.

To maintain round the clock watch, Changdong Township’s official Yu Zhongqin with other officials, villagers and technicians have moved to the tents on a 795-meter section assigned to Qiangang Village.

At the side of the embankment, stands a post with the names, contact information and responsibilities of patrollers on it.

Li Chunhong and more than 30 other villagers and officials of Ruihong Township have been living in tents on the embankment for over a week. He said all township officials are on duty on the 15-km section of the embankment.

Ye Wei, resident of Ruihong’s Jiangjia Village, with four other villagers, has been walking back and forth to monitor a 300-meter part of the embankment during the morning. Dozens of villagers are taking turns to patrol the embankment round-the-clock.

“No mistakes can be allowed. Or, it will be a catastrophe,” Ye said.

Source: Two mln people threatened as China’s largest lake keeps rising – ReliefWeb

Date: 30 June 2010

Lewis Gordon Pugh swims across Everest glacial lake

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

An environmental campaigner has swum 1km (0.62 miles) across a glacial lake on Mount Everest to highlight the impact of global warming.

Lewis Gordon Pugh, 40, from Devon, wore only swimming trunks, goggles and a swimming hat to face the 2C waters of Pumori Lake at 17,000ft (5,300m).

He said he hoped to bring the “world’s attention” to the melting of glaciers and its effect on the region.

Mr Pugh has been nicknamed the “human polar bear” for his cold water swims.

He completed the swim near the Khumbu Glacier in 22 minutes and 51 seconds.

It is the first time a long distance swim has been completed under the summit of Everest, his campaign team said.

He has previously swum in Antarctica and across the North Pole to draw attention to melting sea ice.

He urged governments to make tackling climate change a priority and said he was disappointed the issue did not feature more prominently in the UK election.

The campaigner said he had seen glaciers around the world and many were “melting away”.

“The glaciers in the Himalayas are not just ice. They are a lifeline – they provide water to approximately two billion people,” he added.

Source: Lewis Gordon Pugh swims across Everest glacial lake - BBC

Date: 23 May 2010

Warming in Lake Tanganyika highest in 1,500 years

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Lake Tanganyika, the second oldest and second deepest lake in the world, is now at its warmest in 1,500 years, scientists said on Sunday.

The evidence comes from cores drilled into sedimentary layers in the lake bottom that point to climate changes over many centuries.

Tanganyika’s surface waters, at 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit), are now at temperatures that are “unprecedented since AD 500,” they reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The warming accelerated in the late 20th century, tallying with abundant data from other sites pointing the finger at man-made, heat-trapping greenhouse gases, they said.

As it has warmed, the lake has also suffered a fall in biological activity, they said.

Surface layers that warm become harder to penetrate by cool currents, welling up from the lake’s depths, which bring vital nutrients that feed the first links in the food chain. Ultimately, fish species become affected.

An estimated 10 million people in Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo depend on the lake, using it for drinking water.

Source: Warming in Lake Tanganyika highest in 1,500 years - France24

Date: 16 May 2010

Source: Late-twentieth-century warming in Lake Tanganyika unprecedented since AD 500 – Nature Geoscience (login required)

Date: 16 May 2010

Drought threatens Bakhtegan Lake, Iran

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The Environment Protection Organization of Iran has warned about the declining water levels of Bakhtegan Lake in the country’s southern Fars Province.

Located about 160km east of the historical city of Shiraz, the lake is facing a great environmental disaster due to drought and lack of proper management, ISNA reported.   Several dams have been built over the Kor River, the main source of Bakhtegan’s water, reducing the water flow into the salt lake and threatening its bird-life.

Iran’s second-largest lake, Bakhtegan once hosted thousands of migratory birds such as flamingos in an area of over 350,000 hectares.

Source: Drought threatens Bakhtegan Lake – presstv

Date: 13 May 2010

U.N.’s Ban urges Central Asia talks on shrinking Aral Sea

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Central Asian states to work together to tackle the disastrous effects of the shrinking Aral Sea Sunday after local people urged the United Nations to resolve a regional dispute.

Much of the former bed of what was once the world’s fourth largest lake is now a desert covered with scrub and salt flats. It shrank by 70 percent after Soviet planners in the 1960s siphoned off water for cotton irrigation projects in Uzbekistan.

I was so shocked,” Ban said after viewing the damage by helicopter, describing it as “clearly one of the worst environmental disasters in the world.”

He was on a tour of the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia that lie on some of the world’s biggest untapped oil, gas, uranium and gold reserves.

The people living around the Aral Sea are some of the poorest in the region and struggle with declining fresh water supplies and fish stocks, pollution and violent sand storms.

In 1990 the sea split into a large southern Uzbek part and a smaller Kazakh portion.

“I urge all the leaders (of Central Asia), including President (Islam ) Karimov of Uzbekistan to sit down together and try to find solutions,” said Ban, hours before a scheduled meeting with the Uzbek leader.

“All specialized agencies of the United Nations will provide necessary assistance and expertise,” he said.

Source: U.N.’s Ban urges Central Asia talks on shrinking Aral Sea – Reuters India

Date: 4 April 2010

Lake Mead in Southwestern USA could dry up by 2021

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Lake Mead

Lake Mead

There is a 50% probability that Lake Mead, a major source of water for millions in Southwestern USA, will dry up by 2021. Human demand, natural forces such as evaporation, and human-induced climate change are creating a net deficit of nearly 1 million acre-feet of water per year from the Colorado River system that includes Lake Mead and Lake Powell. This amount of water can supply roughly 8 million people.

“We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem and how fast it was coming at us,” says marine research physicist and study coauthor Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California at San Diego. “Make no mistake, this water problem is not a scientific abstraction, but rather one that will impact each and every one of us that live in the Southwest.”

Source: Lake Mead could dry up by 2021 – Mongabay

Date: 12 February 2008

Beijing to run out of water by 2030; 16 Philippine rivers and lakes already dry

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

One out of five people in Asia do not have access to safe drinking water. Climate change will increase frequency of droughts and floods. Beijing will have used up all their available water supplies by 2030. China has 7% of the planet’s water resources, yet they need to supply one fifth of the global population. 16 Philippine rivers and lakes are already dead during summer and only 33% are suitable as a water source.

Source: Water shortage in Asia – Asian Pacific Post

Date: 20 December 2007

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