Why the world’s largest lakes are shrinking dramatically

Laura Paddison, CNN

More than half of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs have lost significant amounts of water over the last three decades, according to a new study, which pins the blame largely on climate change and excessive water use.

Roughly one-quarter of the world’s population lives in the basin of a drying lake, according to the study by a team of international scientists, published Thursday in the journal Science. While lakes cover only around 3% of the planet, they hold nearly 90% of its liquid surface freshwater and are essential sources of drinking water, irrigation and power, and they provide vital habitats for animals and plants. But they’re in trouble.

Lake water levels fluctuate in response to natural climate variations in rain and snowfall, but they are increasingly affected by human actions. Across the world, the most significant lakes are seeing sharp declines. The Colorado River’s Lake Mead in Southwest US has receded dramatically amid a megadrought and decades of overuse. The Caspian Sea, between Asia and Europe – the world’s largest inland body of water – has long been declining due to climate change and water use….