Lake Balaton, main Europe"s greatest freshwater lake und one von Hungary"s greatest tourist attractions, is shrinking - prompting warnings of bei ecological und economic catastrophic that might be linked to globalen warming.

Du schaust: Wie groß ist der plattensee

For the erste time due to the fact that records began in 1865, four consecutive hot summers and low yearly rainfall oase sucked millions des cubic litres des water from the lake, exposing large mudflats und forcing holiday makers zu walk much out into the lake prior to they kann sein swim.

One legend has it the a young girl sits weeping in a church an the centre des the lake, her tears die source von water zum one of central Europe"s favourite family und recreational resorts.

Maybe she"s stopped crying, but scientists, to like a more pragmatic theory, blame die falling water levels on globalen warming, und warn that such quick climate change could devastate Balaton"s tourism-dependent economy in the decades kommen sie come.

Hungary"s leftist government, battling zu get the economy an shape to join ns European gewerkschaftern next May, has asked scientists to prepare an advisory report on ns Balaton by October.

Balaton, 160 km south des Budapest, besteht aus 600 km2. Once a summer retreat zum the Austro-Hungarian empire"s elite, it was a favoured meeting point for East und West Germans wie man communism restricted international travel.

Jewel in the crown

With the warm, shallow waters, picturesque villages, heat spas und sloping vineyards, ns lake attracts numerous million tourists each year und accounts weil das over five percent des Hungary"s gross domestic product.

But this blazing summer has been particularly hard. Hungary"s wheat crop ist down über a third, und the Danube River, a vital freight artery, ist at its lowest levels an parts zum over a century. Summer temperatures oase been some 4°C above ns 100-year average.

All this is hitting ns jewel bei Hungary"s tourism crown. Iren Heinzl, who has actually maintained a small holiday home on Balaton"s southerly shore for over 40 years, zu sein at a loss to explain how ns lake has actually receded dafür rapidly this year.

"Over the last four years, the lake"s been gaining smaller but, because May, I"ve to be shocked to see what"s to be going on. Maybe an a couple of years, it"ll be prefer Africa here," she said.

Long wooden jetties the used to stretch from shore next gardens into die lake now gestanden awkward und exposed, finishing abruptly hundreds des metres short des the lake. "No one seems zu know why this zu sein happening. I hope the scientists space working top top this, together it"s not just a local problem but one zum the whole des Europe," that said.

Some regional businesses blame Hungary"s media zum helping fan the talk des crisis hinweisen Balaton, v reports of high prices and poor service, also as the lower water levels. Countless Hungarians schutz opted this year zu go kommen sie neighbouring Croatia"s Adriatic coast, yet Balaton"s bar und cafe owner predict they wollen return when they schutz compared prices.

At Balatonfenyves, another small lakeside resort, large mud banken have showed up around 100 ns offshore. Families play soccer in ankle-deep water where previously they would schutz been able kommen sie swim.

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Lack of action über the authorities has sustained a mood des anger and frustration among the thousands des small businesses the eke the end a summer life from ns mainly German, Austrian und local vacation makers.

Some want bei immediate remedy, through fresh water brought in to oberteil up die lake, though countless are aware von warnings that this might disturb Balaton"s delicate ecological balance. Others want a much more inspired marketing campaign, relocating on from die decades-old sales pitch of Hungary together the festland of goulash, paprika and merry gypsy folk music.

Tibor Reti, whose parents have run a klein lakeside cafe weil das 21 years, said they had actually had enough and were pack up kommen sie leave. "Business this season zu sein down über 50%. There"s no future zum us here punkt Balaton unless something ist done about the water levels," that said.

A stone"s throw away, another unternehmen is closeup of the door down, its gigantic water slide stehen idle. Where it used zu plunge into the lake, that spout jetzt hangs in mid-air, metres over dry mud.

Climate change?

Balaton, itself a result von climate change punkt the end of the last eis Age over 10,000 year ago, ist fed von rainfall und the Zala river in the southern - home kommen sie unique bird life which zu sein under threat if the lake continues to dry up.

When full, ns lake is drained through the Sio-Canal additional north. Part water is normally gotten rid of this way each year, yet it zu sein now 38 months due to the fact that those sluice gateways were belastung opened.

Miklos Zagoni, scientific research historian punkt Budapest University, said Balaton, together a shallow lake with in average depth of little more than 3 metres, is an accurate gauge des climate change.

"Balaton"s security over die years shows the stability des climate change, yet the belastung four years reflects a large turn," the said. "This zu sein the 4th year Balaton has had much more evaporation 보다 precipitation - a usual case des climate change.

"Statistically, this ist a very far-ranging trend change, und I believe it"s a direct cause of global warming." Zagoni sees no momentary solution," he added. "Society as a entirety has kommen sie stop ns process of climate change. This may an outcome in in economic versus ecological battle, however we have to change the way we live.

"Maybe this summer, with all die deaths bei France and fires in Portugal, will prove a transforming point und finally press politicians" minds in the right direction."

Mother nature

At his desk in Budapest, setting Minister Miklos Persanyi prepares kommen sie chair a meeting von Balaton experts. He says ns government is aware von concerns over lower water levels, however will notfall take hasty und costly decisions until die scientists have had their say.

"In the first instance, we hope Mother nature will cure the problem," the said, note it was only three years ago that 1.2 billion cubic metres of water to be drained from the lake due to the fact that water levels were too high.

"We möchte get ns scientific reports and review the options, die costs, the ecological und environmental implications. But, even if us decide kommen sie add water , this might take two to three years," that said.

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Persanyi noted there was a globalen decline in tourism, und some travellers may oase been placed off by bei incident earlier this year hinweisen Hungary"s Paks atom plant. Die government was so tackling Balaton"s environmental issues, while boosting its profile as a central European haven for wine lovers, anglers, cyclists and health spas.

"Yes, there are problems zum some in the traveler industry, however maybe the water level ist not the most important," that said. "Balaton remains one of our natural treasures."