Problems with the shoreline development index — A widely used metric of lake shape

Seekell, D.; Cael, B.B. ORCID:; Byström, P.. 2022 Problems with the shoreline development index — A widely used metric of lake shape. Geophysical Research Letters, 49 (10).

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Geophysical Research Letters - 2022 - Seekell - Problems With the Shoreline Development Index A Widely Used Metric of Lake.pdf
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (676kB) | Preview


The shoreline development index—The ratio of a lake’s shore length to the circumference of a circle with the lake’s area—Is a core metric of lake morphometry used in Earth and planetary sciences. In this paper, we demonstrate that the shoreline development index is scale-dependent and cannot be used to compare lakes with different areas. We show that large lakes will have higher shoreline development index measurements than smaller lakes of the same characteristic shape, even when mapped at the same scale. Specifically, the shoreline development index increases by about 14% for each doubling of lake area. These results call into question previously reported patterns of lake shape. We provide several suggestions to improve the application of this index, including a bias-corrected formulation for comparing lakes with different surface areas.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0094-8276
Date made live: 08 Sep 2022 13:35 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...