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Estimating the volume and age of water stored in global lakes using a geo-statistical approach [Nature Communications]

Keywords : hydrology, limnology

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Lakes are key components of biogeochemical and ecological processes, thus knowledge about their distribution, volume and residence time is crucial in understanding their properties and interactions within the Earth system. However, global information is scarce and inconsistent across spatial scales and regions. Here we develop a geo-statistical model to estimate the volume of global lakes with a surface area of at least 10 ha based on the surrounding terrain information. Our spatially resolved database shows 1.42 million individual polygons of natural lakes with a total surface area of 2.67 × 106 km2 (1.8% of global land area), a total shoreline length of 7.2 × 106 km (about four times longer than the world’s ocean coastline) and a total volume of 181.9 × 103 km3 (0.8% of total global non-frozen terrestrial water stocks). We also compute mean and median hydraulic residence times for all lakes to be 1,834 days and 456 days, respectively.

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