Evaporative water loss of 1.42 million global lakes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The evaporative loss from global lakes (natural and artificial) is a critical component of the terrestrial water and energy balance. However, the evaporation volume of these water bodies-from the spatial distribution to the long-term trend-is as of yet unknown. Here, using satellite observations and modeling tools, we quantified the evaporation volume from 1.42 million global lakes from 1985 to 2018. We find that the long-term average lake evaporation is 1500150km3 year-1 and it has increased at a rate of 3.12km3 year-1. The trend attributions include an increasing evaporation rate (58%), decreasing lake ice coverage (23%), and increasing lake surface area (19%). While only accounting for 5% of the global lake storage capacity, artificial lakes (i.e., reservoirs) contribute 16% to the evaporation volume. Our results underline the importance of using evaporation volume, rather than evaporation rate, as the primary index for assessing climatic impacts on lake systems.

published proceedings

  • Nat Commun

altmetric score

  • 312.61

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhao, G., Li, Y., Zhou, L., & Gao, H.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Zhao, Gang||Li, Yao||Zhou, Liming||Gao, Huilin

publication date

  • January 2022