Remote Lakes in Ecuador are Vulnerable to Climate Change

First Posted: Feb 10, 2015 07:54 AM EST

The climate is changing across the globe. Now, scientists have found that Ecuador is also suffering. They've studied three remote lakes and have discovered that tropical high mountain lakes are vulnerable to warming temperatures.

"Until recently we knew little about the effects of recent climate changes on tropical high-mountain lakes," said Neal Michelutti, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We saw major changes in the algae consistent with the water warming that indicates changes in the physical structure of the water column."

The researchers visited three lakes in Cajas National Park and collected water and core samples from the centers of each lake for analysis. After examining these samples, the researchers found that the water has been warming over time.

"Andean societies are amongst the most vulnerable when it comes to the impat of climate change," said Michelutti. "Warming in the Andes is occurring at a rate nearly twice the global average and it's already impacting water resources as shown in this research. These changes are also a sign of bigger changes that are coming."

Currently, the researchers plan further research in the area to see exactly what changes may be occurring in the future.

"We have previously recorded similar types of threshold shifts in polar and temperate regions," said John Smol, a research team member. "These changes are harbringers of processes that will likely affect the food chain and reverberate through the ecosystem. We now have data showing that lakes from the Arctic to the Andes, and everywhere in between, are rapidly changing due to our impacts on climate."

The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

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