Geophysical Research Letters | Cael et al. 
Global lake volume estimates are scarce, highly variable, and poorly documented. We developed a rigorous method for estimating global lake depth and volume based on the Hurst coefficient of Earth’s surface, which provides a mechanistic connection between lake area and volume. Volume-area scaling based on the Hurst coefficient is accurate and consistent when applied to lake datasets spanning diverse regions. We applied these relationships to a global lake area census to estimate global lake volume and depth. The volume of Earth’s lakes is 199,000 km3 (95% confidence interval 196,000-202,000 km3). This volume is in the range of historical estimates (166,000-280,000 km3), but the overall mean depth of 41.8 m (95% CI 41.2-42.4 m) is significantly lower than previous estimates (62 – 151 m). These results highlight and constrain the relative scarcity of lake waters in the hydrosphere and have implications for the role of lakes in global biogeochemical cycles.
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