An accelerating Arctic warming trend over the past quarter of a century has dramatically dried up more than a thousand large lakes in Siberia, probably because the permafrost beneath them has begun to thaw, according to a paper to be published today in the journal Science.

Comparing satellite images made in the early 1970s to those from recent years, a team of U.S. scientists determined that the number of large lakes in a vast 200,000-square-mile region of Russia’s Siberia diminished by about 11%, from 10,882 to 9,712.

About 125 of the 1,170 shrunken lakes disappeared altogether, and most are now considerably smaller than the study’s baseline of 40 hectares, or about 99 acres, the researchers found.

If Arctic temperatures continue to rise, the scientists said, many of the lakes in high northern latitudes, where they are ubiquitous, could eventually disappear.

By Miguel Bustillo

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