Lake Observations by Citizen Scientists and Satellites

How does water move in and out of lakes and the land around them? Does precipitation, groundwater level or evaporation affect the water level the most? How can we better protect freshwater in lakes for future generations? This project combines direct observations of lake heights by volunteers with satellite maps. These measurements of lake heights and surface areas reveal how their water volumes are changing, a key step to answering those questions.

Go to Project Website


18 and up




Alberta, Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Nepal, North Carolina, Pakistan or Washington (as of September 2023).



What you’ll do

  • Visit a lake where a LOCSS gauge is installed (View the latest list of lakes).
  • Read the water level on the gauge, and send a text message to report your reading.


Get started!

  1. Go to the project website
  2. Watch our short instructional video to learn how to report lake levels or read our written instructions.
  3. Interested in installing a gauge in your lake? Learn how to do this.
  4. Nominate your lake for inclusion in our project by filling out this form

Learn More

Join the LOCSS newsletter list and follow our blog to learn more about our progress. 

Visit the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission website to learn more about the satellite data used by the project. 

Follow the LOCSS project on Twitter @lakeobservation!

A round cartoon visual shows a satellite flying in starry, dark blue sky over a brown hill, a green hill, and a lake with a gauge sticking out of it. To the right of the image are the words Lake Observations by Citizen Scientists and Satellites.
A man and a woman, each wearing brown overall waders and smiles, are standing in thigh-high water next to a dock. On the dock, they have recently installed a water level gauge, which looks like an oversized ruler extending above and below the surface of the lake.
Project staff Sarah Yelton and Grant Parkins of UNC Chapel hill install a new gauge at Lake Waccamaw, NC.
Image credit:Tamlin Pavelsky
Image shows a grid of twelve thumbnail photographs of water bodies, each labeled with their region. Regions represented are, top to bottom and read left to right, include Alberta, Canada under an image of a river or long and narrow lake; Bangladesh with an image of flooded field; Chile, with a lake next to dry, reddish land; France, with an image of an alpine lake with jagged rocks on the shoreline; Illinois, with a man and woman standing in waders in a lake next to a project gauge; India with a close-up of the project sign; Massachusetts, with a woman standing in waders next to a gauge; Nepal with an aerial image of a glacial lake and the glaciers that feed it; New Hampshire with a lake and a green lawn on the far shore; New York with an unruffled lake reflecting the forest that surrounds it and the blue sky; North Carolina with ruffled lake surrounded by trees and a tall pine in the foreground; Ohio, with a gently lapping lake with a distant far shore.
Representative lakes in twelve of the fourteen regions currently monitored by LOCSS scientists and volunteer partners.
A grey-haired man and three young women, all in waders adn all with big smiles, stand knee-deep in water next to a LOCSS lake level gauge they are in the process of installing. The gauge itself is partially blocked from view by a black post, presumably the one on which they will mount the new gauge.
Citizen Scientists and LOCSS staff from the University of Massachusetts install a LOCSS water level gauge in Connor Pond, Ossippee, New Hampshire.
Image credit: Merritt Harlan, University of Massachusetts