Slow Turnover: Warming trend affects African ecosystem | Science News

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Slow Turnover: Warming trend affects African ecosystem

12:41pm, June 25, 2003

Over the past 90 years, rising water temperatures in Lake Tanganyika have dramatically reduced populations of the aquatic microorganisms at the base of the lake's food chain, a new analysis shows.

More than 650 kilometers long and up to 50 km wide, Lake Tanganyika is by volume the world's second-largest body of fresh water, surpassed only by Russia's Lake Baikal. Lake Tanganyika winds through southeastern Africa's Great Rift Valley and in spots is more than 1 km deep.

Although dissolved nutrients are scarce in the lake's shallow waters, they're abundant in waters so deep that there's no plant life to consume them. Therefore, near-surface microbes such as phytoplankton depend largely on the upwelling of nutrient-rich waters, says Piet Verburg, a marine biologist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

This water movement is often driven by winds that sweep surface waters away from shore, allowing underlying water to rise. That sort of mixing, however, has been st

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