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Climate change may make the Arctic tundra a drier landscape

23 May 2019

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With climate change, the Arctic tundra is likely to become drier. Lakes may shrink in size and smaller lakes may even disappear according to a new Dartmouth study. In western Greenland, Kangerlussuaq experienced a 28 percent decrease in the number of smaller lakes (those less than 10,000 square meters) and a 20 percent decrease in total area from 1969 to 2017. Many of the lakes that had disappeared in 1969 have since become vegetated. The findings are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.

"Lake drying may be one of the most significant consequences of Arctic climate change given that the majority of the world's lakes are in high latitudes," explained lead author Rebecca Finger Higgens, a graduate student in the ecology, evolution, ecosystems and society program at Dartmouth. "Much of the drying of lakes in Kangerlussuaq has been occurring from 1985 until now, a period during which we've also seen a 2.5 Celsius increase in the mean annual temperature. Our results demonstrate that warmer temperatures in western Greenland over the past 30 years have accelerated lake decline," she added.

Source: Science Daily

Image credit: Xiahong Feng - Map of the Kangerlussuaq region with all lake water sample locations shown with black points.