Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: Lake Balaton Hungary

Geschreven op 19-5-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberThe Shallow Waters of the Hungarian Sea. Popularly called The Hungarian Sea, Lake Balaton is the largest lake in central Europe. Famous for its shallow waters, this natural treasure stretches 77 km between the low volcanic hills of western Hungary. Its average depth is just three metres, and its name derives from the Slavic balaton, meaning muddy lake.

Two thousand years ago, the Romans named it Lacus Pelso, or shallow lake. It was the Romans who first produced wine in Hungary, establishing vineyards on the volcanic hillsides where the grapes receive twice the amount of sunlight thanks to the reflection of the suns rays on the lake.

In the late 1800s, Lake Balaton became a popular summer retreat for the elite of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who came to enjoy its 600 square kilometres of warm water, picturesque villages and sloping vineyards. After World War II, when East Germans were restricted in their movements, it became a favourite location for meetings with family and friends from West Germany.

Since the downfall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe 20 years ago, Lake Balaton has been a popular holiday resort for millions of tourists from all over Europe, giving the local economy a tremendous boost.

Rainfall decreased and temperatures rose substantially for four successive summers from 2000 until 2003. The famous lake began to shrink and the water level dropped even further than usual. Large muddy banks began to appear 100 metres offshore.

In summer 2003, temperatures were 4°C above average. Scientists believe this is an early warning of climate change, indicating the sort of effects we can expect global warming to have later this century.

With summer precipitation projected to decrease by 30-70% in Central Europe, and temperatures expected to be substantially higher, the region around Lake Balaton could experience a 50% increase in heatwaves and drought by the end of the century. This would dry up much of the lake and threaten the historic vineyards.

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