Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe

Catherine M. O'Reilly, Sapna Sharma, Derek K. Gray, Stephanie E. Hampton, Jordan S. Read, Rex J. Rowley, Philipp Schneider, John D. Lenters, Peter B. McIntyre, Benjamin M. Kraemer, Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer, Dietmar Straile, Bo Dong, Rita Adrian, Mathew G. Allan, Orlane Anneville, Lauri Arvola, Jay Austin, John L. Bailey, Jill S. BaronJustin D. Brookes, Elvira De Eyto, Martin T. Dokulil, David P. Hamilton, Karl Havens, Amy L. Hetherington, Scott N. Higgins, Simon Hook, Lyubov R. Izmest'Eva, Klaus D. Joehnk, Kulli Kangur, Peter Kasprzak, Michio Kumagai, Esko Kuusisto, George Leshkevich, David M. Livingstone, Sally MacIntyre, Linda May, John M. Melack, Doerthe C. Mueller-Navarra, Mikhail Naumenko, Peeter Noges, Tiina Noges, Ryan P. North, Pierre Denis Plisnier, Anna Rigosi, Alon Rimmer, Michela Rogora, Lars G. Rudstam, James A. Rusak, Nico Salmaso, Nihar R. Samal, Daniel E. Schindler, S. Geoffrey Schladow, Martin Schmid, Silke R. Schmidt, Eugene Silow, M. Evren Soylu, Katrin Teubner, Piet Verburg, Ari Voutilainen, Andrew Watkinson, Craig E. Williamson, Guoqing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

824 Scopus citations


In this first worldwide synthesis of in situ and satellite-derived lake data, we find that lake summer surface water temperatures rose rapidly (global mean = 0.34°C decade-1) between 1985 and 2009. Our analyses show that surface water warming rates are dependent on combinations of climate and local characteristics, rather than just lake location, leading to the counterintuitive result that regional consistency in lake warming is the exception, rather than the rule. The most rapidly warming lakes are widely geographically distributed, and their warming is associated with interactions among different climatic factors - from seasonally ice-covered lakes in areas where temperature and solar radiation are increasing while cloud cover is diminishing (0.72°C decade-1) to ice-free lakes experiencing increases in air temperature and solar radiation (0.53°C decade-1). The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10773-10781
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 28 2015

Bibliographical note

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© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • climate change
  • lakes
  • temperature


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