Space observations of inland water bodies show rapid surface warming since 1985

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Abstract

[1] Surface temperatures were extracted from nighttime thermal infrared imagery of 167 large inland water bodies distributed worldwide beginning in 1985 for the months July through September and January through March. Results indicate that the mean nighttime surface water temperature has been rapidly warming for the period 1985–2009 with an average rate of 0.045 ± 0.011°C yr−1 and rates as high as 0.10 ± 0.01°C yr−1. Worldwide the data show far greater warming in the mid- and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere than in low latitudes and the southern hemisphere. The analysis provides a new independent data source for assessing the impact of climate change throughout the world and indicates that water bodies in some regions warm faster than regional air temperature. The data have not been homogenized into a single unified inland water surface temperature dataset, instead the data from each satellite instrument have been treated separately and cross compared. Future work will focus on developing a single unified dataset which may improve uncertainties from any inter-satellite biases.

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