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Research article2009Peer reviewedOpen access

Lakes as sentinels of climate change

Adrian, Rita; O'Reilly, Catherine M.; Zagarese, Horacio; Baines, Stephen B.; Hessen, Dag O.; Keller, Wendel; Livingstone, David M.; Sommaruga, Ruben; Straile, Dietmar; Van Donk, Ellen; Weyhenmeyer, Gesa A.; Winder, Monika


While there is a general sense that lakes can act as sentinels of climate change, their efficacy has not been thoroughly analyzed. We identified the key response variables within a lake that act as indicators of the effects of climate change on both the lake and the catchment. These variables reflect a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological responses to climate. However, the efficacy of the different indicators is affected by regional response to climate change, characteristics of the catchment, and lake mixing regimes. Thus, particular indicators or combinations of indicators are more effective for different lake types and geographic regions. The extraction of climate signals can be further complicated by the influence of other environmental changes, such as eutrophication or acidification, and the equivalent reverse phenomena, in addition to other land-use influences. In many cases, however, confounding factors can be addressed through analytical tools such as detrending or filtering. Lakes are effective sentinels for climate change because they are sensitive to climate, respond rapidly to change, and integrate information about changes in the catchment.

Published in

Limnology and Oceanography
2009, Volume: 54, number: 6, pages: 2283-2297

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science
    Environmental Sciences
    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

    Publication identifier


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