Central Europe’s Largest Lake Is Shrinking

According to legend, Hungary’s Lake Balaton is constantly replenished by a young girl weeping in a church in the middle of its waters. Now, though, Central Europe’s largest lake is shrinking, and experts say the problem isn’t a happier lake lady; it’s global warming. Following four hot summers in a row and lower-than-average annual rainfalls, millions of gallons of lakewater have disappeared, exposing mudflats and forcing visitors to the 231-square-mile lake — one of Hungary’s most popular tourist attractions — to walk far out from the original water’s edge for a swim. Environmentalists, climate scientists, and Hungarian politicians warn that those changes could spell disaster for the nation’s tourism-dependent economy as well as for the lake’s fragile ecosystem.