Turkey’s largest lake faces existential crisis due to global warming
While several major lakes in Central Anatolia are facing an existential crisis due to global warming, now the shoreline of Turkey’s largest lake has begun a steady retreat, and replenishing precipitation seems to no longer maintain the basin’s water levels.
The water level in Lake Van, which has experienced the driest period of recent years according to the July temperature and precipitation assessment reports of the Meteorology Administration, has decreased disturbingly.
Microbialites, tall rock formations dating back thousands of years, have made a surprise appearance in the lake which is a popular destination for tourists and is home to a rich ecosystem following the retreat of the shoreline.
Making examinations in the Çelebibağ area of the eastern province of Van, where the water depth is shallower than the other shores of the lake, Mustafa Akkuş, a scientist from Yüzüncü Yıl University, said that the retreat in the region exceeded 1 kilometer.
Noting that there was a decrease of approximately three meters in the Çelibibağ area, Akkuş stated that such a massive recession has not been witnessed in the region for the last 80 years, citing the remarks of the local people.
“Water is recessed in the lake by evaporation in the summer and water enters in winter with the onset of snow and rain. While the water level of the lake decreases in years with high evaporation, the water level rises in years with high precipitation,” he noted.
However, while the lake faces an existential threat due to climate change as there are fears the annual replenishing precipitation may no longer maintain the basin’s water levels because of the impact of global warming on the water cycle.
“Currently, evaporation in Lake Van is almost three times the precipitation. Three times the water entering the lake disappears when this happens,” Akkuş noted, repeating his warnings about the alarming status of the country’s largest lake.
The expert stated that the water level in the lake will decrease even more if this trend continues.
Turkey’s lakes and other major water resources tend to decrease or even disappear in recent years, mostly due to global climate change.
As one of the latest disturbing developments, Lake Akşehir, a tectonic freshwater endorheic lake in Turkey’s southwestern province of Konya, has almost dried up due to years of low rainfall and misusage of its water for agricultural purposes.
The situation is not confined to Lake Akşehir. Illegal irrigation also was blamed for drying up of other lakes in the Konya Plain, known as the country’s breadbasket.