The determination of the rational minimum ecological water level is the base for the protection of ecosystems in shrinking lakes and wetlands. Based on the lake surface area method, a simplified lake surface area method was proposed to define the minimum ecological lake level from the lake level-logarithm of the surface area curve. The curve slope at the minimum ecological lake level is the ratio of the maximum lake storage to the maximum surface area. For most practical cases when the curve cannot be expressed as a simple analytical function, the minimum ecological lake level can be determined numerically using the weighted sum method for an equivalent multi-objective optimization model that balances ecosystem protection and water use. This method requires fewer data of lake morphology and is simple to compute. Therefore, it is more convenient to use this method in the assessment of the ecological lake level. The proposed method was used to determine the minimum ecological water level for one freshwater lake, one saltwater lake, and one wetland in China. The results can be used in the lake ecosystem protection planning and the rational use of water resources in the lake or wetland basins.
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