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Climate Change Is Shrinking Lakes For A Quarter Of The World's Population

Human activities have caused more than half of the world's largest lakes to shrink dramatically over the last 30 years, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Researchers found, the global decline in water storage equivalent to 17 Lake Meads - the largest reservoir in the U.S. People overusing water for agriculture and development, and human-caused climate change are the primary drivers of the decline, particularly in natural lakes, said Fangfang Yao, the study's lead author.

The study looked at nearly 2,000 of the planet's largest lakes and reservoirs using three decades of satellite observations and climate models to measure how bodies of water have shrunk or grown over time, and to parse out what influenced the change.

At least half of the decline in natural lakes was driven by human-caused climate change and overconsumption.

That's a finding, Yao said, that should help water managers better manage and protect threatened lakes around the world.

A climate change-driven megadrought and an ever-growing human thirst have continued to drain the two largest reservoirs in the U.S. - Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which the Colorado River feeds.

Lake Chad, one of Africa's largest freshwater lakes which supplies nearly 40 million people with water, has shrunk by an estimated 90% since the 1960s.

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