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Michigan Tech Research Institute


Large freshwater lakes provide immense value to the surrounding populations, yet there is limited understanding of how these lakes will respond to climate change and other factors. This study uses satellite remote sensing to estimate annual, lake-wide primary production in 11 of the world’s largest lakes from 2003–2018. These lakes include the five Laurentian Great Lakes, the three African Great Lakes, Lake Baikal, and Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes. Mean annual production in these lakes ranged from under 200 mgC/m2/day to over 1100 mgC/m2/day, and the lakes were placed into one of three distinct groups (oligotrophic, mesotrophic, or eutrophic) based on their level of production. The analysis revealed only three lakes with significant production trends over the study period, with increases in Great Bear Lake (24% increase over the study period) and Great Slave Lake (27%) and a decline in Lake Tanganyika (−16%). These changes appear to be related to climate change, including increasing temperatures and solar radiation and decreasing wind speeds. This study is the first to use consistent methodology to study primary production in the world’s largest lakes, allowing for these novel between-lake comparisons and assessment of inter-annual trends.

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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