More than half of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs have lost significant amounts of water over the last three decades, according to a new study, which pins the blame largely on climate change and excessive water use.

Roughly one-quarter of the world’s population lives in the basin of a drying lake, according to the study by a team of international scientists, published Thursday in the journal Science.

While lakes cover only around 3 per cent of the planet, they hold nearly 90 per cent of its liquid surface freshwater and are essential sources of drinking water, irrigation and power, and they provide vital habitats for animals and plants.

But they’re in trouble.