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Earth's lakes added up

The world is home to 117 million lakes, according to a satellite-based survey.

Lakes are important to the planet's carbon cycle, but researchers have struggled to estimate the number that exist, in part because small lakes have been difficult to count. A team led by Charles Verpoorter of the University of Lille Nord in France used high-resolution imagery from the Landsat satellite to catalogue all lakes larger than 2,000 square metres.

Unlike earlier estimates, the total count is dominated by large and medium-sized lakes, not small ones. Together, the lakes cover about 5 million square kilometres, or 3.7% of Earth's land not covered by ice.

Geophys. Res. Lett. (2014)

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Earth's lakes added up. Nature 512, 351 (2014).

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