Scaling relationships between lake surface area and catchment area

Abstract

Scaling relationships, including power laws, provide quantitative predictions used in basic and applied sciences. We investigated scaling relationships between catchment area and lake surface area, the ratio of which has important implications for terrestrial-aquatic linkages. Synthesizing evidence from 9 datasets from three continents, we show that there is an approximately linear relationship between lake surface area and catchment area, and that reservoirs and other human-made lakes tend to have larger catchments than natural lakes. Using the example of DOC export from forested catchments, we illustrate how the relationships observed in this study can be used to provide first-order estimates of ecosystem processes coupling lakes and their catchments.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by NSF Grants OAC-1839024 and OAC-1839011. JAW was also supported by a NatureNet Science Fellowship.

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Correspondence to Jonathan A. Walter.

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Walter, J.A., Fleck, R., Pace, M.L. et al. Scaling relationships between lake surface area and catchment area. Aquat Sci 82, 47 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-020-00726-y

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Keywords

  • Watershed
  • Power law
  • Drainage ratio