Tuesday, May 6, 2008

warmer waters ... in Siberia

The NYT has a cute and disturbing story about a Siberian family that has been recording temperatures in the world's largest body of fresh water for the past 60 YEARS.

Every week or so for, again, the past 60 years, members of the family have crossed Lake Baikal and recorded water temperature, clarity, and plant and animal species. And, no surprise, things are changing.

From the story:

"Although it is known that warming is more intense at high latitudes, as in the Baikal area, and that water is warming in other major lakes, including Lake Tahoe in Nevada and Lake Tanganyika in central Africa, many scientists had thought that Lake Baikal’s enormous volume and unusual water circulation patterns would buffer the effects of global warming.

Instead, the researchers report, surface waters in Lake Baikal are warming quickly, on average by about 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit every decade. At a depth of about 75 feet, the increase is about 0.2 degrees per decade, they say, enough to jeopardize species 'unable to adapt evolutionarily or behaviorally.'"

The lake apparently has a number of species that are not found anywhere else, such as giant shrimp and freshwater seal, and with the warmer temperatures, "its highly unusual food web is reorganizing."

I don't know what is more interesting/amazing: the science (yikes) or how long this family kept their project going, even during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.