Marine Institute

Global database of lake temperatures published

March 18, 2015

Lough Feeagh, Newport, Co. Mayo, IrelandLakes around the world are warming, but the magnitude and uniformity of this trend remains unclear. To facilitate research on this topic, a global database of summer temperatures for 291 lakes from 1859-2009 has been compiled, complemented by data on local climatic drivers and lake geomorphology.

The paper describing lakes as sentinels of climate change is published in the Journal of Scientific Data, by Nature (http://www.nature.com/sdata/) on the 17th March 2015. Dr Elvira de Eyto, Marine Institute and co author on the paper along with Marine Institute scientists are part of the Global Lake Temperature Collaboration (GLTC), an international group assembled to provide increased access to global lake temperature records.

The GLTC project recognised that a new global database of lake surface temperatures was needed, including not only satellite data, but also "on the ground" measurements from in situ data collection programs. Since its inception in 2010, the GLTC initiative has grown to a database of 291 lakes and reservoirs worldwide, providing summer-mean lake surface temperatures from 1985-2009, and roughly doubling the amount of data previously available from satellites alone. This new dataset represents the first publicly available global compilation of in situ and satellite-based lake surface temperature data. The GLTC database also provides information on climatic drivers (air temperature, solar radiation, cloud cover), as well as geomorphometric characteristics that may affect lake temperature (latitude, longitude, elevation, lake surface area, maximum depth, mean depth, volume). This unique, global dataset will offer an invaluable baseline perspective on lake thermal conditions for ongoing and future studies of environmental change.

Data for Lough Feeagh, situated in the Burrishoole catchment in Co. Mayo, forms part of this dataset, and is one of a small number of lakes worldwide for which long-term temperature data are available. A temperature recorder on Lough Feeagh was originally installed in 1960, when the Salmon Research Trust of Ireland began investigations into the movement of salmon, trout and eel through the catchment. The Marine Institute continues this work, and maintains an extensive environmental monitoring program in the catchment (http://Burrishoole.marine.ie) which is used to record climate and land use changes that may impact fish stocks. Collaboration with international networks such as the GLTC (www.laketemperature.org), GLEON (www.gleon.org) and NETLAKE (www.dkit.ie/netlake) ensure that the valuable data collected in Burrishoole are used by a wider scientific community to address questions of global significance.