- Climate Change Causing Water Levels to Drop in Caspian Sea
- Global warming is causing increased evaporation on the Caspian Sea, and that’s a problem. Here’s why.
At a glance:
- The dramatic water level drop at the Caspian Sea shows how declines caused by global warming can affect millions of people.
- Loss of winter sea ice could further endanger the Caspian seal and other wildlife.
- Lakes around the world can expect to see similar declines in water levels, the scientists said.
Sea level rise caused by climate change rightly gets a great deal of attention, but problems associated with falling water levels in inland seas and lakes are not as well known.
A group of scientists says that needs to change as they warn that the effects of global warming on these lakes will “affect the livelihoods and economies of millions of people all over the world.”
As an example of these effects, the German and Dutch researchers looked at the Caspian Sea, which they say will drop 30 to 60 feet by the end of this century as evaporation increases dramatically.
The Caspian Sea is actually the world’s largest lake. It lies between Europe and Asia and is bordered by Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Since the 1990s, water levels in the Caspian have dropped a few inches every year.
A decline of 30 feet would uncover nearly 36,000 square miles of land — or an area the size of Portugal, the authors said in an article on The Conversation website.
“A genuine ecocide is around the corner,” they wrote.
In their paper, “The other side of sea level change,” published in Communications Earth & Environment, the scientists say that decline in sea level will severely affect the ecosystem of the Caspian Sea, which has already been damaged by pollution, oil and gas exploration and the introduction of invasive species.
The drastically lower sea levels caused by climate change will mean a loss of winter sea ice, which will affect the pupping grounds of the endangered Caspian seal.
Shallow-water habitats that provide food for fish, migrating birds, and the seals will disappear.
Important wetlands on the Volga River Delta and along the Iranian coast “will be transformed beyond recognition.”
Dead zones will form as pollution and nutrients flow into shallow and deeper parts of the sea.
The loss of fishing grounds, aquaculture facilities and tourism and recreation “will have drastic socioeconomic consequences and may trigger local and regional conflicts,” according to the paper by Matthias Prange, Thomas Wilke, and Frank P. Wesselingh.
They say the lack of public and political awareness of the Caspian sea level decline applies to lake levels around the world, and a growing number of scientific studies predict drying caused by global warming that may lead to substantial lake level drops in Asian, African, and American basins.
“The impacts of the overlooked facet of future sea level change — falling levels of lakes and seas in continental interiors on a global scale — could be similarly devastating as global sea level rise, and threaten the livelihood of millions of people worldwide,” the authors wrote.
“Immediate and coordinated action is needed to make up for valuable time lost. The shrinking Caspian Sea might serve as a poster child of the problem that will help to galvanize such actions.”
Source: Ron Brackett, WeatherChannel.com