The size-distribution of earth’s lakes and ponds: Limits to power-law behavior

Cael, B.B. ORCID:; Biggs, Jeremy; Seekell, D. A.. 2022 The size-distribution of earth’s lakes and ponds: Limits to power-law behavior. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10.

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Global-scale characterizations of Earth’s lakes and ponds assume their surface areas are power-law distributed across the full size range. However, empirical power-laws only hold across finite ranges of scales. In this paper, we synthesize evidence for upper and lower limits to power-law behavior in lake and pond size-distributions. We find support for the power-law assumption in general. We also find strong evidence for a lower limit to this power-law behavior, although the specific value for this limit is highly variable (0.001–1 km2), corresponding to orders of magnitude differences of the total number of lakes and ponds. The exact mechanisms that break the power-law at this limit are unknown. The power-law extends to the size of Earth’s largest lake. There is inconsistent evidence for an upper limit at regional-scales. Explaining variations in these limits stands to improve the accuracy of global lake characterizations and shed light on the specific mechanism responsible for forming and breaking lake power-law distributions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2296-665X
Date made live: 28 Sep 2022 09:43 +0 (UTC)

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