A recent study revealed that most of the Arctic’s lakes have shrunk in size over the past 20 years, possibly as a result of global warming and melting permafrost.
The study, led by US researchers, covers the period from 2000 to 2021, based on satellite images of large swathes of Arctic space in Russia, Alaska, Greenland, Canada and the Nordic countries. In 82% of the study area, lakes or water bodies are completely dried up.
One prevailing theory is that the area of tundra lakes will gradually increase this century due to rapid warming and melting permafrost, says University of Florida biologist Elizabeth Webb’s team, cited by the media.
However, the researchers note in this study that the opposite is true. They argue that permafrost thaw helps shrink lakes by creating drainage channels and increasing soil erosion at the bottom of aquifers.
Between 20 and 40 percent of the Arctic lowlands are lakes, which form the cornerstone of the Arctic ecosystem, scientists point out. They represent an essential freshwater source for local tribal communities and industries. Researchers note that many threatened or endangered species, including migratory birds and fish, depend on the habitats of these lakes for their survival.
” Our results suggest that permafrost thaw is happening faster than previously predicted. [la communauté scientifique]. It also indicates that the area is in the way of large-scale drainage.“, observed Elizabeth Webb.