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Calculate the volume of a lake in ArcGIS

To estimate the storage capacity of water bodies like lakes, ponds and reservoirs, can be performed through indirect methods, which calculate the volume of water retained through cartographic information, bathymetry and a digital elevation model are required for the calculation is performed with the tools of ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension.

In this example, to determine the volume of water in a lake, open the contours of the study area (optional calculating the reservoir).

Contours in ArcGIS

Create a triangulated irregular network (TIN) with information from the altitude field, using the Create TIN tool (location usually varies depending on the version of ArcGIS), located at:

ArcToolbox > 3D Analyst Tools> Data Management > TIN

Create a TIN in ArcGIS

The next step is to establish the surface of the lake (reservoir), convert polyline to polygon the contour of the perimeter of the lake (in this exercise elevation 2044, can also be calculated for each spot elevation accumulated volume, being the mirror surface of the lake water peak, so we can determine the ratio of the area, capacity and lift, in order to trace the curves showing the behavior of the volume of the water surface, for each elevation), with Feature To Polygon tool located at:

ArcToolbox > Data Management Tools > Features

  Calculate the volume of a mountain or elevation in ArcGIS

Create polygons in ArcGIS

Due to the nature of an indirect method, field testing is required for reliability, another important aspect is the resolution of the input information, the results depend on the resolution of TIN (accuracy of the contour) to calculate the volume of water retained and the surface (either for the mirror up water, or for each dimension if required to analyze the behavior of the volume) with the Polygon Volume tool (in Input Surface filed place the TIN, in Input Feature Class field select the polygon mirror of water, in the Height Field leave <none>, in Reference Plane make sure that BELOW is selected, keeping all other fields default) located at:

ArcToolbox > 3D Analyst Tools > Triangulated Surface

Polygon Volume ArcGIS

The result can be seen in the attribute table of the polygon mirror of water (perimeter of the lake), the storage capacity shown in the Volume field in cubic meters and in the SArea field the area in square meters, this procedure it can be performed for each spot elevation, if a study of the behavior of the cumulative volume of the water surface is required.

Please help me with writing (comment), my English is not good.

12 thoughts on “Calculate the volume of a lake in ArcGIS”

  1. Esther says:

    You are doing a great job. Sharing your knowledge freely with others is wonderful. This a good example of science without borders! I can help with the editing of your write up. You can contact me through my email address.

  2. Brent Wood says:

    I carried out a similar exercise using the spatial database, Postgis, to calculate the volume of the New Zealand EEZ. I used a global (GEBCO) bathymetry grid, converted this to vector polygons, so each grid cell became a polygon, with the depth as an attribute. Add in the land and eez polygons, and a single SQL query can retrieve the sum of the (cell area x depth) where the cell centre is inside the EEZ polygon but outside the land polygon(s). The entire process took about 50 lines of script, including the command to retrieve the global grid to use. A fun little project showcasing a fully repeatable process with open source and open data.

  3. Dodji says:

    I find it clear. Thanks. For me, it doesn’t matter your english level, since you can express yourself and be understood. Plus, Your english is good enough I Think. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. tahir says:

    Its very knowledgeable and good job. Please share this kind of information thanks alot

  5. Kaium says:

    This article is really helpful to all those are interested to work with water bodies.

  6. Lorenzo says:

    Yes, this is a good example of using gis.
    Franzpc, I would thank you for your discussion.
    I’m planning to try to reproduce the test in another place using QGIS.
    I’ll keep you posted.

  7. Emmanuel says:

    Hey Brent Wood i tried looking you up on Linkedin. I sent you a friend request:Emmanuel Uko
    And my email is i need some more technical information on your project, because my thesis is closely related to that of yours.

  8. Samuel Ayodele says:

    Thanks for sharing this piece of information

  9. Shofiyyah says:

    Thank u for sharing this knowledge, i search many information one years a go, n i doesn’t find, now i know how to calculate voleme lake.

  10. korlor says:

    very good knowledgment for me because i’m studying about the GIS so may i share this infomation thanks

  11. Bridget says:

    Thanks for this helpful post. I did have one question. You mention using a digital elevation model (DEM) in the first paragraph, but I can’t figure out at which step you used it. I followed this procedure using a bathymetry line layer and never needed the DEM, but I imagine if there was a way to use it that it might improve the accuracy of the volume (by resolving contours in between my bathymetry lines). I really appreciate your help.

    1. franzpc says:

      DEM is for get the contours (Also TIN could be digital model of elevation digital).

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