A half-century of changes in China's lakes: Global warming or human influence?



[1] Lake size is sensitive to both climate change and human activities, and therefore serves as an excellent indicator to assess environmental changes. Using a large volume of various datasets, we provide a first complete picture of changes in China's lakes between 1960s–1980s and 2005–2006. Dramatic changes are found in both lake number and lake size; of these, 243 lakes vanished mainly in the northern provinces (and autonomous regions) and also in some southern provinces while 60 new lakes appeared mainly on the Tibetan Plateau and neighboring provinces. Limited evidence suggested that these geographically unbalanced changes might be associated primarily with climate change in North China and human activities in South China, yet targeted regional studies are required to confirm this preliminary observation.