Spatial pattern of lake evaporation increases under global warming linked to regional hydroclimate change

Wenyu Zhou, Linying Wang, Dan Li & L. Ruby Leung

Department of Energy, Office of Science, Earth & Environmental Systems Modeling, MultiSector Dynamics Program Acknowledged Support: Yes

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00327-z

Abstract

Lakes are critical natural resources that are vulnerable to climate change. In a warmer climate, lake evaporation is projected to increase globally, but with substantial variation between regions. Here, based on ensemble projections of climate and lake models and an attribution method, we show that future lake evaporation increase is strongly modulated by regional hydroclimate change. Specifically, a drying hydroclimate will amplify evaporation increase by enlarging surface vapor pressure deficit and reducing cloud shortwave reflection. Future lake evaporation increase is amplified in tropical America, the Mediterranean and Southeast China with drier future hydroclimates, and dampened in high latitudes and the Tibetan Plateau with wetter future hydroclimates. Such spatially coupled changes in lake evaporation and hydroclimate have important implications on regional lake water balance and volume change, which can aggravate water scarcity and flood risks.

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