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Lake surface area method to define minimum ecological lake level from level-area-storage curves

Abstract

Lake level assessment is essential for the protection of ecosystem in shrunk or shrinking lakes. Minimum ecological lake level is the critical lake level below which there should be no human activities to further decrease the lake level, and this level can provide a certain protection for the lake ecosystem. Lake surface area method was proposed to define the minimum ecological lake storage as the breakpoint of the lake surface area-storage curve, where the curve slope equals to the ratio of maximum lake surface area to maximum lake storage. If the curve can be expressed as a simple analytical function, the minimum ecological lake storage can be calculated analytically. Otherwise, it can be calculated numerically using the ideal point method for an equivalent multi-objective optimization model that balances ecosystem protection and water use. Then the minimum ecological lake level can be estimated from the lake level-storage curve. Compared with available lake morphology analysis methods, the lake surface area method is superior in its definition of minimum ecological lake level, applicable range of lake morphology, and calculation complexity. The proposed method was applied to two representative lakes in China, including one freshwater lake (the Dongting Lake in Hunan province in Central China) and one saltwater lake (the Ebinur Lake in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China). The estimated minimum ecological lake level for the Dongting Lake is 26.7 m, at which 31% of the maximum lake storage provides 87% of the maximum lake surface area. The result for the Ebinur Lake is 191.2 m, at which 24% of the maximum lake storage provides 54% of the maximum lake surface area. The estimated minimum ecological lake level balances the conflict between economical and ecological water uses, and can provide a relatively larger habitat for the lake ecosystem with relatively smaller lake storage. These results are rational compared with the results of other methods. The calculated minimum ecological lake level can be used in the protection of lake ecosystems and the planning and rational use of water resources in lake basins.

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Correspondence to SongHao Shang.

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Shang, S. Lake surface area method to define minimum ecological lake level from level-area-storage curves. J. Arid Land 5, 133–142 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-013-0153-3

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Keywords

  • lake level assessment
  • minimum ecological lake level
  • lake surface area
  • lake storage
  • multi-objective optimization model