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44 Evaporation from Lakes

Part 4. Hydrometeorology

  1. Jonathan W Finch,
  2. Robin L Hall

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa047

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Finch, J. W. and Hall, R. L. 2006. Evaporation from Lakes. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 4:44.

Author Information

  1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Lakes are an important part of the hydrological cycle, but quantifying the evaporation rates from them is not a trivial task. The amount of radiant energy captured by a lake is generally the dominant control on the annual evaporation rate. At shorter time periods, the major factors affecting lake evaporation are: the albedo, the heat-storage term of the energy budget, and the atmospheric diffusion processes. The albedo is a function of the solar elevation angle and the proportion of downward diffuse radiation, and can be predicted from empirical relationships. The heat-storage term can decouple the evaporation rates from the net radiation, but can be estimated simply in the case of well-mixed water. However, in the situation where the lake becomes thermally stratified, more complex, hydrodynamic models are required. The three commonly used methods of estimating lake evaporation are: mass transfer, energy balance, and combination equations. There are strengths and limitations to each of these methods.


  • lake;
  • evaporation;
  • open water;
  • available energy;
  • heat storage