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Discovery Files - "Vanishing Waters"

Discovery Files
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Discovery Files - "Vanishing Waters"

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Now you see you don't.

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files"-- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

The Siberian wilderness. One of the dominant features is thousands of arctic lakes dotting the landscape. These lakes provide a home for migratory birds, and a living for native fishermen. And they're disappearing.

When satellite pictures of the area taken more than 30 years ago are compared with today's images, the loss is profound. Eleven percent of lakes larger than 100 acres have shrunk or vanished completely.

Researchers have linked this phenomenon to global climate change. But if rising temperatures are melting surface ice, wouldn't the lakes be getting larger? the northern regions where the permafrost layer beneath them remains intact. In southern areas where the permafrost has melted, there is no longer a solid base to hold it, so the water drains through the soil.

The UCLA-headed team studying the disappearing lakes has not found evidence that the lake loss has caused climatic or weather change, but they are continuing to monitor this ecological vanishing act.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at

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