18 Jan 2023
18 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Lake-TopoCat: A global lake drainage topology and catchment database

Md Safat Sikder1, Jida Wang1, George H. Allen2, Yongwei Sheng3, Dai Yamazaki4, Chunqiao Song5, Meng Ding1, Jean-François Crétaux6, and Tamlin M. Pavelsky7 Md Safat Sikder et al.
  • 1Department of Geography and Geospatial Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA
  • 2Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA
  • 3Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 4Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  • 5Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
  • 6Laboratoire d'Études en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS), Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), Toulouse, France
  • 7Department of Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Abstract. Lakes and reservoirs are ubiquitous across global landscapes, functioning as the largest repository of liquid surface freshwater, hotspots of carbon cycling, and “sentinels” of climate change. Although typically considered as lentic (hydrologically stationary) environments, lakes are an integral part of global drainage networks. Through perennial and intermittent hydrological connections, lakes often communicate with each other, and these connections actively affect water mass, quality, and energy balances in both lacustrine and fluvial systems. Deciphering how global lakes are hydrologically interconnected, or the so-called “lake drainage topology”, is not only important to lake change attribution, but also increasingly critical to discharge, sediment, and carbon modeling. Despite the proliferation of river hydrography data, lakes remain poorly represented in routing models, partially because there has been no global-scale hydrography dataset tailored to lake drainage basins and networks. Here, we introduce the global Lake drainage Topology and Catchment database, or “Lake-TopoCat”, which reveals detailed lake hydrography information with a careful consideration of possible multifurcation. Lake-TopoCat contains the outlet(s) and catchment(s) of each lake, the inter-connecting reaches among lakes, and a wide suite of attributes depicting lake drainage topology such as upstream and downstream relationship, drainage distance between lakes, and a priori drainage type and connectivity with river networks. Using the HydroLAKES (v1.0) global lake mask, the Lake-TopoCat v1.0 identifies ~1.46 million outlets for ~1.43 million lakes larger than 10 ha and delineates 77.5 million km2 of lake catchments covering 57 % of the Earth’s landmass except Antarctica. The global lakes are interconnected by ~3 million reaches, derived from MERIT Hydro (v1.0.1), stretching a total distance of ~10 million km, ~80 % of which are shorter than 10 km. With such unprecedented lake hydrography details, Lake-TopoCat may facilitate a variety of limnological applications including water quality diagnosis, agriculture and fisheries, lacustrine connectivity monitoring, and integrated lake-river modeling. It is freely accessible at (Sikder et al., 2022).

Md Safat Sikder et al.

Status: open (until 15 Mar 2023)

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Md Safat Sikder et al.

Data sets

Lake-TopoCat: A global Lake drainage Topology and Catchment database Sikder, M. S., Wang, J., Allen, G. H., Sheng, Y., Yamazaki, D., Song, C., Ding, M., Crétaux, J.-F., and Pavelsky, T. M.

Md Safat Sikder et al.


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Short summary
We introduce the Lake-TopoCat to reveal detailed lake hydrography information. It contains the location of lake outlets, boundary of lake catchments, and a wide suite of attributes that depict detailed lake drainage relationships. It was constructed using lake boundaries from a global lake dataset, and with the help of high-resolution hydrography data. This database may facilitate a variety of applications including water quality, agriculture and fisheries, and integrated lake-river modeling.