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article imageChina's second largest lake shrinking fast

By Kevin Jess     Nov 7, 2009 in Environment
Dongting, China's second largest freshwater lake, has decreased in area by about two thirds in only one month says a local meteorologist.
Liu Jinghui, of the Wuhan regional climate center of Hubei Provincial Meteorological Bureau said in an interview with Xinhua News agency that according to satellite images, the area of the lake was 1,338.57 square kilometers in September and when measured in October, the area had shrunk by 60 per cent to 537.84 square kilometers.
Liu said to Xinhua News, "The latest monthly shrinkage was the worst anyone can recall in a century."
Liu points to two factors in particular that are causing the lake's quick depletion.
The first reason is a lingering drought in the region since August with precipitation dropping by 50 per cent in some areas and by as much as 90 per cent in others.
It's not only climate change that may be affecting the lake.
The storage of water at the Yangtze Three Gorges project may also be preventing the lake from replenishing but Liu said, "It requires further analysis to find out the real causes," reports Xinhua.
Meteorologists have been monitoring the lake since 2001 and have recorded the lake shrinking by about 1 per cent annually.
China has almost 25,000 freshwater lakes, but due to climate change and human activity they are disappearing by about 20 per year.
In July, 2009, Xinhua reported that China's largest desert lake, Hongjiannao, was shrinking and it could disappear completely in just a few decades.
He Fenqi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences said at an international seminar, "Just 10 years ago, one couldn't see the other bank of the Hongjiannao even through a telescope. Today, it's visible with the naked eye."
At one time the Lop Nur was the largest lake in the country, but it dried up in 1972 due to desertification and environmental degradation.
Lop Nur  Formerly China s largest lake
A satellite image of Lop Nur, what was China's largest lake which dried up in 1972.
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