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Imagine That! -- "Missing Arctic Lakes"

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! -- "Missing Arctic Lakes"

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

How could over one hundred lakes in the Arctic just...vanish? Scientists are on the case.

Imagine that!

(SOUND: birds, animals)

A recent warming trend in the Arctic over the past twenty years has already claimed over 125 lakes. Apparently, permafrost usually present under the lakes that acts as a barrier to water infiltration, is melting, allowing the lake water to drain into the ground. The lakes' disappearance has scientists concerned, because their loss could change certain Arctic ecosystems. These lakes provide a home for migratory birds, and a living for native fishermen.

(SOUND: water dripping)

Because the lakes are a prominent feature of the Arctic, the disappearance of a significant number of them is dramatically altering the landscape. Laurence Smith of UCLA and colleagues from two other universities studied satellite images from 1972 and compared them with recent satellite images of the area. Although permafrost is still intact in the northern Arctic, in southern areas, eleven percent of lakes larger than one hundred acres have shrunk, or even disappeared completely.

The UCLA-headed team continues to study this ecological vanishing act. I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally-sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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