Title: A global lake and reservoir volume analysis using a surface water dataset and satellite altimetry
Citation: HYDROLOGY AND EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCES vol. 23 no. 2 p. 669-690
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC110619
ISSN: 1027-5606 (online)
URI: https://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/23/669/2019/
DOI: 10.5194/hess-23-669-2019
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Lakes and reservoirs are crucial elements of the hydrological and biochemical cycle and are a valuable resource for hydropower, domestic and industrial water use, and irrigation. Although their monitoring is crucial in times of increased pressure on water resources by both climate change and human interventions, publically available datasets of lake and reservoir levels and volumes are scarce. Within this study, a time series of variation in lake and reservoir volume between 1984 and 2015 were analysed for 137 lakes over all continents by combining the JRC Global SurfaceWater (GSW) dataset and the satellite altimetry database DAHITI. The GSW dataset is a highly accurate surface water dataset at 30m resolution compromising the whole L1T Landsat 5, 7 and 8 archive, which allowed for detailed lake area calculations globally over a very long time period using Google Earth Engine. Therefore, the estimates in water volume fluctuations using the GSW dataset are expected to improve compared to current techn ques as they are not constrained by complex and computationally intensive classification procedures. Lake areas and water levels were combined in a regression to derive the hypsometry relationship (dh = dA) for all lakes. Nearly all lakes showed a linear regression, and 42% of the lakes showed a strong linear relationship with a R2 > 0.8, an average R2 of 0.91 and a standard deviation of 0.05. For these lakes and for lakes with a nearly constant lake area (coefficient of variation < 0.008), volume variations were calculated. Lakes with a poor linear relationship were not considered. Reasons for low R2 values were found to be (1) a nearly constant lake area, (2) winter ice coverage and (3) a predominant lack of data within the GSW dataset for those lakes. Lake volume estimates were validated for 18 lakes in the US, Spain, Australia and Africa using in situ volume time series, and gave an excellent Pearson correlation coefficient of on average 0.97 with a standard deviation of 0.041, and a normalized RMSE of 7.42 %. These results show a high potential for measuring lake volume dynamics using a pre-classified GSW dataset, which easily allows the method to be scaled up to an extensive global volumetric dataset. This dataset will not only provide a historical lake and reservoir volume variation record, but will also help to improve our understanding of the behaviour of lakes and reservoirs and their representation in (large-scale) hydrological models.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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