A prolonged drought in southeastern China has almost desiccated Poyang Lake, the country’s biggest freshwater lake, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Jiangxi provincial hydrographic bureau. The lack of rainfall in regions upstream of the lake, where precipitation in 2011 was 21 percent lower than average, has reduced the flow of the five rivers that feed into Poyang. Earlier this year, the Ganjiang River fell to record low 12.35 meters (40.5 feet). To make matters worse, a slew of new construction projects could be filling in parts of Poyang Lake during the low-water season.
In North America, high temperatures and a lack of snow and ice could push the Great Lakes water levels down. The region experienced near record rainfall in 2011, but by December temperatures were higher than average, threatening to offset the gains, according a six-month forecast released in December by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Though lake levels are currently much higher than last year, they will likely drop 5 to 18 centimeters (2 to 7 inches) below 2011 levels by summer if the mild weather continues.