Scottish Lochs Feeling Full Force of Climate Crisis

By Cameron Macpherson

(Photograph: Carlos Lorenzo; Flickr)

97% of Scottish lochs and reservoirs have shown dramatic increase in water temperature.

A recent report published by Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) shows that between 2015 and 2019, 97% of Scottish lochs and reservoirs surveyed increased in temperature. 

Speaking on the matter, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said:

 “This important research provides yet more worrying evidence of the risks of harm from climate change on Scotland’s water environment. It is vital that we do more to mitigate those impacts, to seek to reduce the pace of warming but also to adapt to it.  We have committed £243 million since 2015 through the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme to support land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change.” 

These rise in temperatures could lead to dangerous algal blooms forming, which could curtail the recreational use of Scottish lochs going into summer. Moreover, these algae blooms can muscle out other freshwater plant species – leading to a less diverse ecosystem in our waters. 

In order to reduce the levels of these algal blooms, the report suggests focussing on diverting farm and other waste runoff from entering our lochs. As these products contain high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, which are responsible for these blooms forming.

NatureScot Freshwater and Wetlands Advice Manager Iain Sime said:

“Scotland, like the rest of the world, is facing an unprecedented climate emergency. The findings of this comprehensive review are stark, demonstrating the impact that climate change is already having on our freshwater lochs and reservoirs, and their biodiversity.

“The need for urgent action is clear, and at NatureScot we are using the £65m Nature Restoration Fund to prioritise efforts that support the conservation of our lochs and ponds.”

The report also concludes that this damage to lochs and reservoirs will spread to all parts of Scotland by 2040. 

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