By SETH BORENSTEINyesterday
WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate change ’s hotter temperatures and society’s diversion of water have been shrinking the world’s lakes by trillions of gallons of water a year since the early 1990s, a new study finds.
A close examination of nearly 2,000 of the world’s largest lakes found they are losing about 5.7 trillion gallons (21.5 trillion liters) a year. That means from 1992 to 2020, the world lost the equivalent of 17 Lake Meads, America’s largest reservoir, in Nevada. It’s also roughly equal to how much water the United States used in an entire year in 2015.
Even lakes in areas getting more rainfall are shriveling. That’s because of both a thirstier atmosphere from warmer air sucking up more water in evaporation, and a thirsty society that is diverting water from lakes to agriculture, power plants and drinking supplies, according to a study in Thursday’s journal Science.
Authors also cited a third reason they called more natural, with water shrinking because of rainfall pattern and river runoff changes, but even that may have a climate change component. That’s the main cause for Iran’s Lake Urmia to lose about 277 billion gallons (1.05 trillion liters) a year, the study said.