Lakes Are Less Blue Because of Climate Change

By Medscape Staff

December 13, 2022

The blue waters of lakes across the globe are at risk of changing their color as global temperatures rise, according to a global inventory of lake color conducted by hydrologists at Southern Methodist University.

What to know:

  • Lake color can be affected by substances such as algae and sediments, but air temperature, precipitation, lake depth, and elevation also play important roles in determining a lake’s most common watercolor.

  • Blue lakes account for less than one third of the world's lakes and tend to be found in cool, high-latitude regions with high precipitation and winter ice cover.

  • Lake watercolor is a viable metric for tracking water quality and ecosystem health, and global satellite imagery shows more blue lakes turning green-brown as temperatures rise because of climate change.

  • When water changes from blue to green or brown it's possible the lake wouldn't be able to offer the same ecosystem services because there might be periods where the water isn't usable and could be unable to sustain some life forms.

  • Changes to a lake's watercolor may have recreational, cultural, and financial implications because it would affect the lake's ecosystem as well as the animals, plants, and humans that count on them.

This is a summary of the article "Climate Change Is Making Lakes Less Blue," published by American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters on September 22, 2022. The full article can be found on

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