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ECV T4 Lake levels
T1-River | T2-Water Use  | T3-Ground Water | T4-Lake | T5-Snow | T6-Galciers |
T7-Frost | T8-Albedo | T9-Land | T10-fAPAR | T11-LAI | T12-Biomass | T13-Fire |


Surface water storage occurs in lakes, reservoirs (and also wetland areas) for water in its liquid phase. The volume of water in a surface storage unit at any one time is an integrator variable, reflecting both atmospheric (precipitation, evaporation-energy) and hydrologic (surface water recharge, discharge and ground water tables) conditions. Depending on the storage capacity of a reservoir, it may primarily reflect human control. However, if lakes and wetland areas are not being affected by excessive withdrawal, they are strongly driven by extant climate conditions and are important for assessing net climate effects over time. If climate change is leading to a hotter and drier mode, then lakes and wetlands should reflect this promptly.

ECV lake levels standards report

As requested by UNFCCC SBSTA/COP for its 23rd Session in Montreal, November 2005, GTOS is undertaking the assessment of the status of the development of standards for each of the essential climate variables in the terrestrial domain. The following report, documentation and other material have been so far compiled for lake levels. We very much welcome your comments and inputs in improving and completing the analysis. Please send any material and comments to the GTOS Secretariat.


Download report PDF, 0.94 Mb, 1 November 2009


Listed below are the major references that have been identified in regards to methodology and standards for lake levels. Please inform us if you are aware of any other documentation or material which could be considered.

Carlson, R.E. and J. Simpson. 1996. Volunteer Lake Monitoring in the Upper Mid-west: Programs, Techniques, and Technical Recommendations. North American Lake Management Society, Madison, WI.

International Organization for Standardization, 1988: Liquid FlowMeasurement in Open Channels: Vocabulary and Symbols. Third edition, ISO 772, Geneva.

International Organization for Standardization, 1981: Liquid FlowMeasurement in Open Channels. Part 1: Establishment and operation of a gauging station and Part 2: Determination of stage-discharge relation. ISO 1100, Geneva.

World Meteorological Organization, 1980: Manual on Stream Gauging.
Volumes I and II, Operational Hydrology Report No. 13. WMO-No. 519, Geneva.

This reference section is still under construction, if you want the full list of references identified please contact the GTOS Secretariat.

Relevant Web links

Listed below are the links relevant to lake level measurements. New links are welcome.

Global Terrestrial Network - Hydrology

TEMS variables and T-sites

The Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS) database contains details on ecological variables and research sites which are undertaking ecological measurements.


We would like to thank the following individuals for having provided inputs and comments to the lake level ECV.

. Monica Monteduro, NRC, FAO


We welcome your inputs, comments and queries. Please send feedback to the GTOS Secretariat.

The above activities are part of Task Number CL-06-03 of the GEOSS implementation plan of GEO.

T1-River | T2-Water Use  | T3-Ground Water | T4-Lake | T5-Snow | T6-Galciers |
T7-Frost | T8-Albedo | T9-Land | T10-fAPAR | T11-LAI | T12-Biomass | T13-Fire |
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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   11 November 2009