A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, that is
surrounded by land, apart from any river or other outlet that serves
to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie on land and are not part of
the ocean, and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are also
larger and deeper than ponds, though there are no official or
scientific definitions. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or
streams, which are usually flowing. Most lakes are fed and drained by
rivers and streams.
Natural lakes are generally found in mountainous areas, rift zones,
and areas with ongoing glaciation. Other lakes are found in endorheic
basins or along the courses of mature rivers. In some parts of the
world there are many lakes because of chaotic drainage patterns left
over from the last Ice Age. All lakes are temporary over geologic time
scales, as they will slowly fill in with sediments or spill out of the
basin containing them.
Many lakes are artificial and are constructed for industrial or
agricultural use, for hydro-electric power generation or domestic
water supply, or for aesthetic or recreational purposes or even for
1 Etymology, meaning, and usage of "lake"
2 Distribution of lakes
3 Origin of lakes
3.1 Tectonic lakes
3.2 Volcanic lakes
3.3 Glacial lakes
3.4 Fluvial lakes
3.4.1 Oxbow lakes
3.4.2 Fluviatile dams
3.4.3 Lateral lakes
3.5 Solution lakes
3.6 Landslide lakes
3.7 Aeolian lakes
3.8 Shoreline lakes
3.9 Organic lakes
3.10 Anthropogenic lakes
Meteorite (extraterrestrial impact/ crater) lakes
4 Other different types of lakes
4.1 Types of lakes according to thermal stratification
4.2 Types of lake according to seasonal variation of lake level and
4.3 Types of lake according to water chemistry
4.4 Lakes composed of other liquids
8 How lakes disappear
9 Extraterrestrial lakes
10 Notable lakes on Earth
10.1 Largest by continent
11 See also
13 External links
Etymology, meaning, and usage of "lake"
Oeschinen Lake in the Swiss Alps
Lake Tahoe on the border of
California and Nevada
Caspian Sea is either the world's largest lake or a full-fledged
The word lake comes from
Middle English lake ("lake, pond, waterway"),
Old English lacu ("pond, pool, stream"), from Proto-Germanic
*lakō ("pond, ditch, slow moving stream"), from the
Proto-Indo-European root *leǵ- ("to leak, drain"). Cognates include
Dutch laak ("lake, pond, ditch"),
Middle Low German
Middle Low German lāke ("water
pooled in a riverbed, puddle") as in: de:Moorlake, de:Wolfslake,
de:Butterlake, German Lache ("pool, puddle"), and Icelandic lækur
("slow flowing stream"). Also related are the English words leak and
There is considerable uncertainty about defining the difference
between lakes and ponds, and no current internationally accepted
definition of either term across scientific disciplines or political
boundaries exists. For example, limnologists have defined lakes as
water bodies which are simply a larger version of a pond, which can
have wave action on the shoreline or where wind-induced turbulence
plays a major role in mixing the water column. None of these
definitions completely excludes ponds and all are difficult to
measure. For this reason, simple size-based definitions are
increasingly used to separate ponds and lakes. One definition of lake
is a body of water of 2 hectares (5 acres) or more in area;:331
however, others[who?] have defined lakes as waterbodies of 5 hectares
(12 acres) and above, or 8 hectares (20 acres) and
above  (see also the definition of "pond"). Charles Elton, one of
the founders of ecology, regarded lakes as waterbodies of 40 hectares
(99 acres) or more. The term lake is also used to describe a
feature such as
Lake Eyre, which is a dry basin most of the time but
may become filled under seasonal conditions of heavy rainfall. In
common usage, many lakes bear names ending with the word pond, and a
lesser number of names ending with lake are in quasi-technical fact,
ponds. One textbook illustrates this point with the following: "In
Newfoundland, for example, almost every lake is called a pond, whereas
in Wisconsin, almost every pond is called a lake."
One hydrology book proposes to define the term "lake" as a body of
water with the following five characteristics:
it partially or totally fills one or several basins connected by
has essentially the same water level in all parts (except for
relatively short-lived variations caused by wind, varying ice cover,
large inflows, etc.)
it does not have regular intrusion of seawater
a considerable portion of the sediment suspended in the water is
captured by the basins (for this to happen they need to have a
sufficiently small inflow-to-volume ratio)
the area measured at the mean water level exceeds an arbitrarily
chosen threshold (for instance, one hectare)
With the exception of the seawater intrusion criterion, the others
have been accepted or elaborated upon by other hydrology
Distribution of lakes
Seven Rila Lakes
Seven Rila Lakes are a group of glacial lakes in the Bulgarian
The majority of lakes on Earth are fresh water, and most lie in the
Northern Hemisphere at higher latitudes. Canada, with a deranged
drainage system has an estimated 31,752 lakes larger than 3 square
kilometres (1.2 sq mi) and an unknown total number of
lakes, but is estimated to be at least 2 million.
187,888 lakes 500 square metres (5,400 sq ft) or larger, of
which 56,000 are large (10,000 square metres (110,000 sq ft)
Most lakes have at least one natural outflow in the form of a river or
stream, which maintain a lake's average level by allowing the drainage
of excess water. Some lakes do not have a natural outflow and lose
water solely by evaporation or underground seepage or both. They are
termed endorheic lakes.
Many lakes are artificial and are constructed for hydro-electric power
generation, aesthetic purposes, recreational purposes, industrial use,
agricultural use or domestic water supply.
Evidence of extraterrestrial lakes exists; "definitive evidence of
lakes filled with methane" was announced by NASA as
returned by the Cassini Probe observing the moon Titan, which orbits
the planet Saturn.
Globally, lakes are greatly outnumbered by ponds: of an estimated 304
million standing water bodies worldwide, 91% are 1 hectare (2.5 acres)
or less in area (see definition of ponds). Small lakes are also
much more numerous than large lakes: in terms of area, one-third of
the world's standing water is represented by lakes and ponds of 10
hectares (25 acres) or less. However, large lakes
account for much of the area of standing water with 122 large lakes of
1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi, 100,000 ha, 247,000 acres) or more
representing about 29% of the total global area of standing inland
Origin of lakes
A portion of the
Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake in Utah, United States
A lake in the Andes Mountains
Hutchinson in 1957 published a monograph that is regarded as a
landmark discussion and classification of all major lake types, their
origin, morphometric characteristics, and distribution. As
summarized and discussed by these researchers, Hutchinson presented in
it a comprehensive analysis of the origin of lakes and proposed what
is a widely accepted classification of lakes according to their
origin. This classification recognizes 11 major lake types that are
divided into 76 subtypes. The 11 major lake types are tectonic lakes,
volcanic lakes, landslide lakes, glacial lakes, solution lakes,
fluvial lakes, aeolian lakes, shoreline lakes, organic lakes,
anthropomorphic lakes, and meteorite (extraterrestrial impact)
Tectonic lakes are lakes formed by the deformation and resulting
lateral and vertical movements of the Earth’s crust. These movements
include faulting, tilting, folding, and warping. Some of the
well-known and largest lakes on Earth are rift lakes occupying rift
valleys, e.g. Central African Rift lakes and
Lake Baikal. Other
well-known tectonic lakes, Caspian Sea, the Sea of Aral, and other
lakes from the Pontocaspian occupy basins that have been separated
from the sea by the tectonic uplift of the sea floor above sea
Often, the tectonic action of crustal extension has created an
alternating series of parallel grabens and horsts that form elongate
basins alternating with mountain ranges. Not only does this promote
the creation of lakes by the disruption of preexisting drainage
networks, it also creates within arid regions endorheic basins that
containing salt lakes (also called saline lakes). They form where
there is no natural outlet, a high evaporation rate and the drainage
surface of the water table has a higher-than-normal salt content.
Examples of these salt lakes include
Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea.
another type of tectonic lake caused by faulting is sag
Volcanic lakes are lakes that occupy either local depressions, e.g.
craters and maars or larger basins, e.g. calderas, created by
volcanism. Crater lakes are formed in volcanic craters and calderas,
which fill up with precipitation more rapidly than they empty via
either evaporation, groundwater discharge, or combination of both.
Sometimes the latter are called caldera lakes, although often no
distinction is made. An example is
Crater Lake in Oregon, in the
caldera of Mount Mazama. The caldera was created in a massive volcanic
eruption that led to the subsidence of
Mount Mazama around 4860 BC.
Other volcanic lakes are created when either rivers or streams are
dammed by lava flows or volcanic lahars. The basin
within which Malheur Lake,
Oregon was created when a lava flow dammed
the Malheur River.
Glacial lakes are lakes created by the direct action of glaciers and
continental ice sheets. A wide variety of glacial processes create
enclosed basins. As a result, there are a wide variety of different
types of glacial lakes and it is often difficult to define clear-cut
distinctions between different types of glacial lakes and lakes
influenced by other activities. The general types of glacial lakes
that have recognized are lakes in direct contact with ice; glacially
carved rock basins and depressions; morainic and outwash lakes; and
glacial drift basins. Glacial lakes are the numerous lakes in the
world. Most the lakes in northern Europe and North America have been
either influenced or created by the latest, but not last, glaciation,
to have covered the region. Glacial lakes include
proglacial lakes, subglacial lakes, finger lakes, and epishelf lakes.
Epishelf lakes are highly stratified lakes in which a layer of
freshwater, derived from ice and snow melt, is dammed behind an ice
shelf that is attached to the coastline. They are mostly found in
Fluvial (or riverine) lakes are lakes produced by running water.
These lakes include plunge pool lakes, fluviatile dams and meander
The most common type of fluvial lake is a crescent-shaped lake called
an oxbow lake due to the distinctive curved shape. They can form in
river valleys as a result of meandering. The slow-moving river forms a
sinuous shape as the outer side of bends are eroded away more rapidly
than the inner side. Eventually a horseshoe bend is formed and the
river cuts through the narrow neck. This new passage then forms the
main passage for the river and the ends of the bend become silted up,
thus forming a bow-shaped lake.
These form where sediment from a tributary blocks the main river.
These form where sediment from the main river blocks a tributary,
usually in the form of a levee.
A solution lake is a lake occupying a basin formed by surface
dissolution of bedrock. In areas underlain by soluble bedrock, its
solution by precipitation and percolating water commonly produce
cavities. These cavities frequently collapse to form sinkholes that
form part of the local karst topography. Where groundwater lies near
the grounds surface, a sinkhole will be filled water as a solution
lake. If such a lake consists of a large area of standing
water that occupies an extensive closed depression in limestone, it is
also called a karst lake. Smaller solution lakes that consist of a
body of standing water in a closed depression within a karst region
are known as karst ponds. Limestone caves often contain pools of
standing water, which are known as underground lakes. Classic examples
of solution lakes are abundant in the karst regions at the Dalmatian
Croatia and within large parts of Florida.
Landslide lakes are lakes created by the blockage of a valley by
either mudflows, rockslides, or screes. Such lakes are common in
mountainous regions. Although landslide lakes may be large and quite
deep, they are typically short-lived. An example of a
landslide lake is Quake Lake, which formed as a result of the 1959
Aeolian lakes are lakes produced by wind action. They are found mainly
in arid environments although some aeolian lakes are relict landforms
indicative of arid paleoclimates. Aeolian lakes consist of lake basins
dammed by wind-blown sand; interdunal lakes that lies between
well-oriented sand dunes; and deflation basins formed by wind action
under previously arid paleoenvironments. Moses Lake, Washington, is an
example of a lake basins dammed by wind-blown sand.
Shoreline lakes are generally lakes created by blockage of estuaries
or by the uneven accretion of beach ridges by longshore and other
currents. They include maritime coastal lakes, ordinarily in drowned
estuaries; lakes enclosed by two tombolos or spits connecting an
island to the mainland; lakes cut off from larger lakes by a bar; or
lakes divided by the meeting of two spits.
Organic lakes are lakes created by the actions of plants and animals.
On the whole they are relatively rare in occurrence and quite small in
size. In addition, they typically ephemeral features relative to the
other types of lakes. The basins in which organic lakes occur are
associated with beaver dams, coral lakes, or dams formed by
Anthropogenic lakes are artificially created lakes formed by human
activity. They can be the result of intentional damming of rivers and
streams or subsequent filling of abandon excavations by either ground
water, precipitation, or a combination of both.
Meteorite (extraterrestrial impact/ crater) lakes
Meteorite lakes, which are also known as crater lakes, are lakes
created by catastrophic extraterrestrial impacts by either meteorites
or asteroids. Examples of meteorite lakes are Lonar crater
Lake Elgygytgyn, and
Pingualuit crater lake,
Quebec, Canada, As in case of
Lake El'gygytgyn and Pingualuit
crater lake, meteorite (extraterrestrial impact/ crater) lakes can
contain unique and scientifically valuable sedimentary deposits
associated with long records of paleoclimatic changes.
Other different types of lakes
One of the many artificial lakes in
Arizona at sunset.
Lake Parramatta, an artificial lake in Sydney, Australia.
A naturalized former gravel pit lake in northern Croatia.
The crater lake of Volcán Irazú, Costa Rica.
These kettle lakes in
Alaska were formed by a retreating glacier.
Lake Badwater', a lake only noted after heavy winter and
spring rainfall, Badwater Basin,
Death Valley National Park.
Ice Melting on
In addition to mode of origin, lakes have been named and classified in
various other ways according to their thermal stratification,
salinity, relative seasonal permanence, degree of outflow, and other
factors. Also, different cultures and regional of the world have their
Types of lakes according to thermal stratification
In addition to their origin, there are various other ways of either
naming or defining types of lakes. One major way of classification
lakes in on the basis of thermal stratification because it is a major
control on animal and plant life inhabiting a lake and the fate and
distribution of dissolved and suspended material in a lake. For
example, the thermal stratification and the degree and frequency of
mixing exerts a strong control on the distribution of oxygen within
it. In addition, lake can be classified according important factors
such as seasonal variations in lake volume and level, oxygen
saturation, and salinity of its water mass. Finally, the names of
types of lakes that are used by the lay public and in the scientific
for different types of lakes are often informally derived from either
from their morphology of other aspects or their physical
F.A. Forel, who is also referred to as the father of limnology,
was the first scientist to classify lakes according to their thermal
stratification. His system of classification was later modified
and improved upon by Hutchinson and Laffler. Because the density
of water varies with temperature, with a maximum at +4 DC, thermal
stratification is an important physical characteristic of lakes that
controls the fauna and flora, sedimentation, chemistry, and other
aspects of individual lakes. First, the colder, heavier water
typically forms a layer near the bottom, which called the hypolimnion.
Second, normally overlying it is a transition zone known as the
metalimnion. Finally, overlying the metalimnion is a surface layer of
a warmer, lighter water is called the epilimnion. However, this
typical stratification sequence can vary widely depending either on
the specific lake, the time of season, or combination of
Based upon thermal stratification, lakes are classified as either
holomictic lakes or meromictic lakes. A meromictic lake is a lake
which has layers of water which do not intermix. The deepest layer of
water in such a lake does not contain any dissolved oxygen. In
addition, the layers of sediment at the bottom of a meromictic lake
remain relatively undisturbed because there are no living aerobic
organisms. The lack of disturbance allows for the development of
lacustrine varves. A
Holomictic lake is a lake that has a uniform
temperature and density from top to bottom at a specific time during
the year. This uniformity temperature and density in allows the lake
waters to completely mix. Holomictic lakes are non-meromictic lakes.
Based upon thermal stratification and frequency of turnover,
holomictic lakes are divided into amictic lakes, cold monomictic
lakes, dimictic lakes, warm monomictic lakes, polymictic lakes, and
oligomictic lakes. The classification of lakes by thermal
stratification presupposes lakes with sufficient depth to form a
hypolimnion. As a results, very shallow lakes are excluded this
The stratification in a lake is not always the result of variation to
density because of thermal gradients. Stratification within a lake can
also be the result of differences in density resulting from gradients
in salinity. In case of a difference in salinity, the hypolimnion and
epilimnion are separated not by a thermocline but by a halocline,
which is sometimes referred to as a chemocline.
Types of lake according to seasonal variation of lake level and
Lakes are informally classified and named according to the seasonal
variation in their lake level and volume. Some of the names include:
Ephemeral lake is a short-lived lake or pond. If it fills with
water and dries up (disappears) seasonally it is known as an
intermittent lake They often fill poljes
Dry lake is a popular name for an ephemeral lake that contains water
only intermediately at irregular and infrequent intervals.
Perennial lake is a lake that has water in its basin throughout the
year and is not subject to extreme fluctuations in level.
Playa lake is a typically shallow, intermittent lake that covers or
occupies a playa either in wet seasons or in especially wet years but
subsequently drying up in an arid or semiarid region.
Vlei is a name used in
South Africa for a shallow lake which varies
considerably in level with the seasons.
Types of lake according to water chemistry
Lakes are also informally classified and named according to the
general chemistry of their water mass. Some of the types of lakes
An acid lake is a lake that has a pH is below neutral (<6.5). A
lake is considered to and highly acid when the pH drops below 5.5,
below which when biological consequences occur. Such lakes include
acid pit lakes occupying abandoned mines and excavations; naturally
acid lakes of igneous and metamorphic landscapes; peat bogs in
northern regions; acid-saline lakes of arid environments; crater lakes
of active and dormant volcanoes; and lakes acidified by acid
A salt lake, which also known as a brine lake, is an inland body of
water situated in an arid or semiarid region, having no outlet to the
sea, and containing a high concentration of dissolved salts
(principally sodium chloride). Examples include the
Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake in
Utah, and the
Dead Sea in the Near East.
alkali sink, also known as salt flats, are lakes on the other extreme
of the scale from the large and deep saline lakes. They are, shallow
saline features that occupy low-lying areas of the arid regions and in
groundwater discharge zones. These are typically classifiable as
either playas or playa lakes because they are periodically flooded by
either rain or flood events and then dry up during drier intervals,
leaving accumulations of brines and evaporitic minerals.
A salt pan (saltpan) is either an undrained small shallow natural
depression in which water accumulates and evaporates leaving a salt
deposit or the shallow lake of brackish water occupying a salt pan.
This term is also used for a large pan for recovering salt by
A saline pan is a name for an ephemeral saline lake which precipitates
a bottom crust that is subsequently modified during subaerial
Lakes composed of other liquids
Lava lake is a large volume of molten lava, usually basaltic,
contained in a volcanic vent, crater, or broad depression.
Hydrocarbon lakes are bodies of liquid ethane and methane that occupy
depressions on the surface of Titan. They were detected by the
Cassini–Huygens space probe.
A paleolake, also spelt palaeolake, is a lake that existed in the past
when hydrological conditions were different.
can often be identified on the basis of relict lacustrine landforms
such as relict lake plains and coastal landforms that form
recognizable relict shorelines, which are called paleoshorelines.
Paleolakes can also be recognized by characteristic sedimentary
deposits that accumulated in them and any fossils that these sediments
might contain. The paleoshorelines and sedimentary deposits of
paleolakes provide evidence for prehistoric hydrological changes
during the times that they existed.
Types of paleolakes include:
A former lake is a lake which is no longer in existence. Such lakes
include prehistoric lakes and lakes which have permanently dried up
often as the result of either evaporation or human intervention. Owens
Lake in California, USA, is an example of a former lake. Former lakes
are a common feature of the Basin and Range area of southwestern North
A shrunken lake is a lake which has drastically decreased in size over
Lake Agassiz, which once covered much of central
North America, is a good example of a shrunken lake. Two notable
remnants of this lake are
Lake Winnipeg and
Paleolakes are of scientific and economic importance. For example,
Quaternary paleolakes in semidesert basins are important for two
reasons. First, they played an extremely significant, if transient,
role in shaping the floors and piedmonts of many basins. Finally,
their sediments contain enormous quantities of geologic and
paleontologic information concerning past environments. In
addition, the organic-rich deposits of pre-
Quaternary paleolakes are
important either for the thick deposits of oil shale and shale gas
that they contain or as source rocks of petroleum and natural gas.
Although of significantly less economic importance, strata deposited
along the shore of paleolakes sometimes contain coal seams.
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this
section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material
may be challenged and removed. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message)
Many lakes can have tremendous cultural importance. The
West Lake of
Hangzhou has inspired romantic poets throughout the ages, and has been
an important influence on garden designs in China, Japan and
Lake Päijänne is one of tens of thousands of lakes in Finnish
Lake Mapourika, New Zealand
Lakes have numerous features in addition to lake type, such as
drainage basin (also known as catchment area), inflow and outflow,
nutrient content, dissolved oxygen, pollutants, pH, and sedimentation.
Changes in the level of a lake are controlled by the difference
between the input and output compared to the total volume of the lake.
Significant input sources are precipitation onto the lake, runoff
carried by streams and channels from the lake's catchment area,
groundwater channels and aquifers, and artificial sources from outside
the catchment area. Output sources are evaporation from the lake,
surface and groundwater flows, and any extraction of lake water by
humans. As climate conditions and human water requirements vary, these
will create fluctuations in the lake level.
Lakes can be also categorized on the basis of their richness in
nutrients, which typically affect plant growth. Nutrient-poor lakes
are said to be oligotrophic and are generally clear, having a low
concentration of plant life. Mesotrophic lakes have good clarity and
an average level of nutrients.
Eutrophic lakes are enriched with
nutrients, resulting in good plant growth and possible algal blooms.
Hypertrophic lakes are bodies of water that have been excessively
enriched with nutrients. These lakes typically have poor clarity and
are subject to devastating algal blooms. Lakes typically reach this
condition due to human activities, such as heavy use of fertilizers in
the lake catchment area. Such lakes are of little use to humans and
have a poor ecosystem due to decreased dissolved oxygen.
Due to the unusual relationship between water's temperature and its
density, lakes form layers called thermoclines, layers of drastically
varying temperature relative to depth.
Fresh water is most dense at
about 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 °F) at sea level. When the
temperature of the water at the surface of a lake reaches the same
temperature as deeper water, as it does during the cooler months in
temperate climates, the water in the lake can mix, bringing
oxygen-starved water up from the depths and bringing oxygen down to
decomposing sediments. Deep temperate lakes can maintain a reservoir
of cold water year-round, which allows some cities to tap that
reservoir for deep lake water cooling.
Lake Teletskoye, Siberia
Since the surface water of deep tropical lakes never reaches the
temperature of maximum density, there is no process that makes the
water mix. The deeper layer becomes oxygen starved and can become
saturated with carbon dioxide, or other gases such as sulfur dioxide
if there is even a trace of volcanic activity. Exceptional events,
such as earthquakes or landslides, can cause mixing which rapidly
brings the deep layers up to the surface and release a vast cloud of
gas which lay trapped in solution in the colder water at the bottom of
the lake. This is called a limnic eruption. An example is the disaster
Lake Nyos in Cameroon. The amount of gas that can be dissolved in
water is directly related to pressure. As deep water surfaces, the
pressure drops and a vast amount of gas comes out of solution. Under
these circumstances carbon dioxide is hazardous because it is heavier
than air and displaces it, so it may flow down a river valley to human
settlements and cause mass asphyxiation.
The material at the bottom of a lake, or lake bed, may be composed of
a wide variety of inorganics, such as silt or sand, and organic
material, such as decaying plant or animal matter. The composition of
the lake bed has a significant impact on the flora and fauna found
within the lake's environs by contributing to the amounts and the
types of nutrients available.
A paired (black and white) layer of the varved lake sediments
correspond to a year. During winter, when organisms die, carbon is
deposited down, resulting to a black layer. At the same year, during
summer, only few organic materials are deposited, resulting to a white
layer at the lake bed. These are commonly used to track past
Natural lakes provide a microcosm of living and nonliving elements
that are relatively independent of their surrounding environments.
Therefore, lake organisms can often be studied in isolation from the
Main articles: Limnology,
Lake ecosystem, and
Lake Billy Chinook, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon.
Lake Cugun, Kirsehir, Turkey.
Lake of Flowers (Liqeni i Lulëve), one of the Lurë Mountains glacial
Limnology is the study of inland bodies of water and related
Limnology divides lakes into three zones: the littoral
zone, a sloped area close to land; the photic or open-water zone,
where sunlight is abundant; and the deep-water profundal or benthic
zone, where little sunlight can reach. The depth to which light can
reach in lakes depends on turbidity, determined by the density and
size of suspended particles. A particle is in suspension if its weight
is less than the random turbidity forces acting upon it. These
particles can be sedimentary or biological in origin and are
responsible for the color of the water. Decaying plant matter, for
instance, may be responsible for a yellow or brown color, while algae
may cause greenish water. In very shallow water bodies, iron oxides
make water reddish brown. Biological particles include algae and
detritus. Bottom-dwelling detritivorous fish can be responsible for
turbid waters, because they stir the mud in search of food.
Piscivorous fish contribute to turbidity by eating plant-eating
(planktonivorous) fish, thus increasing the amount of algae (see
aquatic trophic cascade). The light depth or transparency is measured
by using a Secchi disk, a 20-cm (8 in) disk with alternating
white and black quadrants. The depth at which the disk is no longer
visible is the Secchi depth, a measure of transparency. The Secchi
disk is commonly used to test for eutrophication. For a detailed look
at these processes, see lentic ecosystems.
A lake moderates the surrounding region's temperature and climate
because water has a very high specific heat capacity (4,186
J·kg−1·K−1). In the daytime a lake can cool the land beside it
with local winds, resulting in a sea breeze; in the night it can warm
it with a land breeze.
How lakes disappear
Lake Chad in a 2001 satellite image, with the actual lake in blue, and
vegetation on top of the old lake bed in green.
Lake Badwater, February 9, 2005.
Landsat 5 satellite photo.
Badwater Basin dry lake, February 15, 2007.
Landsat 5 satellite photo.
The lake may be infilled with deposited sediment and gradually become
a wetland such as a swamp or marsh. Large water plants, typically
reeds, accelerate this closing process significantly because they
partially decompose to form peat soils that fill the shallows.
Conversely, peat soils in a marsh can naturally burn and reverse this
process to recreate a shallow lake resulting in a dynamic equilibrium
between marsh and lake. This is significant since wildfire has
been largely suppressed in the developed world over the past century.
This has artificially converted many shallow lakes into emergent
marshes. Turbid lakes and lakes with many plant-eating fish tend to
disappear more slowly. A "disappearing" lake (barely noticeable on a
human timescale) typically has extensive plant mats at the water's
edge. These become a new habitat for other plants, like peat moss when
conditions are right, and animals, many of which are very rare.
Gradually the lake closes and young peat may form, forming a fen. In
lowland river valleys where a river can meander, the presence of peat
is explained by the infilling of historical oxbow lakes. In the very
last stages of succession, trees can grow in, eventually turning the
wetland into a forest.
Some lakes can disappear seasonally. These are called intermittent
lakes, ephemeral lakes, or seasonal lakes and can be found in karstic
terrain. A prime example of an intermittent lake is
Lake Cerknica in
Lag Prau Pulte
Lag Prau Pulte in Graubünden. Other intermittent lakes
are only the result of above-average precipitation in a closed, or
endorheic basin, usually filling dry lake beds. This can occur in some
of the driest places on earth, like Death Valley. This occurred in the
spring of 2005, after unusually heavy rains. The lake did not last
into the summer, and was quickly evaporated (see photos to right). A
more commonly filled lake of this type is
Sevier Lake of west-central
Sometimes a lake will disappear quickly. On 3 June 2005, in Nizhny
Novgorod Oblast, Russia, a lake called
Lake Beloye vanished in a
matter of minutes. News sources reported that government officials
theorized that this strange phenomenon may have been caused by a shift
in the soil underneath the lake that allowed its water to drain
through channels leading to the Oka River.
The presence of ground permafrost is important to the persistence of
some lakes. According to research published in the journal Science
("Disappearing Arctic Lakes", June 2005), thawing permafrost may
explain the shrinking or disappearance of hundreds of large Arctic
lakes across western Siberia. The idea here is that rising air and
soil temperatures thaw permafrost, allowing the lakes to drain away
into the ground.
Some lakes disappear because of human development factors. The
Aral Sea is described as being "murdered" by the diversion
for irrigation of the rivers feeding it.
See also: Prairie Lake
Titan's north polar hydrocarbon seas and lakes as seen in a
false-color Cassini synthetic aperture radar mosaic.
Only one world other than Earth is known to harbor large lakes,
Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Photographs and spectroscopic analysis
Cassini–Huygens spacecraft show liquid ethane on the surface,
which is thought to be mixed with liquid methane. The largest Titanean
Kraken Mare at 400,000 km2, is three-times
the size of any lake on Earth, and even the second, Ligeia Mare, is
estimated to be slightly larger than Earth's
Jupiter's large moon Io is volcanically active, and as a result sulfur
deposits have accumulated on the surface. Some photographs taken
during the Galileo mission appear to show lakes of liquid sulfur in
volcanic caldera, though these are more analogous to lake of lava than
of water on Earth.
Mars is too cold and has too little atmospheric pressure to
permit the pooling of liquid water. Geologic evidence appears to
confirm, however, that ancient lakes once formed on the surface. It is
also possible that volcanic activity on
Mars will occasionally melt
subsurface ice, creating large temporary lakes. This
water would quickly freeze and then sublimate, unless insulated in
some manner, such as by a coating of volcanic ash.
There are dark basaltic plains on the Moon, similar to lunar maria but
smaller, that are called lacus (singular lacus,
Latin for "lake")
because they were thought by early astronomers to be lakes of water.
Notable lakes on Earth
Round Tangle Lake, one of the Tangle Lakes, 2,864 feet (873 m) above
sea level in interior Alaska
The largest lake by surface area is Caspian Sea, which is despite its
name considered as a lake from the point of view of geography. Its
surface area is 143,000 sq. mi./371,000 km2.
The second largest lake by surface area is
Lake Michigan-Huron, which
is hydrologically a single lake. Its surface area is 45,300 sq.
mi./117,400 km2. For those who consider
Lake Michigan-Huron to be
separate lakes, and
Caspian Sea to be a sea,
Lake Superior would be
the largest lake at 31,700 sq. mi./82,100 km2.
The deepest lake is
Lake Baikal in Siberia, with a bottom at 1,637
metres (5,371 ft). Its mean depth is also the greatest in the
world (749 metres (2,457 ft)).
It is also the world's largest lake by volume (23,600 cubic kilometres
(5,700 cu mi), though smaller than the
Caspian Sea at 78,200
cubic kilometres (18,800 cu mi)), and the second longest
(about 630 kilometres (390 mi) from tip to tip).
The longest lake is
Lake Tanganyika, with a length of about 660
kilometres (410 mi) (measured along the lake's center line).
It is also the second largest by volume and second deepest (1,470
metres (4,820 ft)) in the world, after lake Baikal.
The world's oldest lake is
Lake Baikal, followed by
Lake Maracaibo is considered by some to be the
second-oldest lake on Earth, but since it lies at sea level and
nowadays is a contiguous body of water with the sea, others consider
that it has turned into a small bay.
The world's highest lake, if size is not a criterion, may be the
crater lake of Ojos del Salado, at 6,390 metres (20,965 ft).
The highest large (greater than 250 square kilometres
(97 sq mi)) lake in the world is the 290 square kilometres
(110 sq mi) Pumoyong Tso (Pumuoyong Tso), in the Tibet
Autonomous Region of China, at 28-34N 90-24E, 5,018 metres
(16,463 ft) above sea level.
The world's highest commercially navigable lake is
Lake Titicaca in
Bolivia at 3,812 m (12,507 ft). It is also the
largest lake in South America.
The world's lowest lake is the Dead Sea, bordered by
Jordan to the
Israel and Palestine to the west, at 418 metres
(1,371 ft) below sea level. It is also one of the lakes with
highest salt concentration.
Lake Michigan–Huron has the longest lake coastline in the world:
about 5,250 kilometres (3,260 mi), excluding the coastline of its
many inner islands. Even if it is considered two lakes,
alone would still have the longest coastline in the world at 2,980
kilometres (1,850 mi).
The largest island in a lake is
Manitoulin Island in
Lake Huron, with
a surface area of 2,766 square kilometres (1,068 sq mi).
Lake Manitou, on Manitoulin Island, is the largest lake on an island
in a lake.
The largest lake on an island is
Nettilling Lake on Baffin Island,
with an area of 5,542 square kilometres (2,140 sq mi) and a
maximum length of 123 kilometres (76 mi).
The largest lake in the world that drains naturally in two directions
is Wollaston Lake.
Lake Toba on the island of
Sumatra is in what is probably the largest
resurgent caldera on Earth.
The largest lake completely within the boundaries of a single city is
Lake Wanapitei in the city of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Before the
current city boundaries came into effect in 2001, this status was held
Lake Ramsey, also in Sudbury.
Lake Enriquillo in
Dominican Republic is the only saltwater lake in
the world inhabited by crocodiles.
Lake Bernard, Ontario, Canada, claims to be the largest lake in the
world with no islands.
The largest lake in one country is
Lake Michigan, in the U.S.A.
However, it is sometimes considered part of
making the record go to Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, in
Canada, the largest lake within one jurisdiction.
The largest lake on an island in a lake on an island is
Crater Lake on
Vulcano Island in
Lake Taal on the island of Luzon, The Philippines.
The northernmost named lake on Earth is
Upper Dumbell Lake in the
Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut,
Canada at a latitude of 82°28'N. It is
5.2 kilometres (3.2 mi) southwest of Alert, the northernmost
settlement in the world. There are also several small lakes north of
Upper Dumbell Lake, but they are all unnamed and only appear on very
Largest by continent
The largest lakes (surface area) by continent are:
Lake Eyre (salt lake)
Lake Victoria, also the third-largest freshwater lake on
Earth. It is one of the
Great Lakes of Africa.
Lake Vostok (subglacial)
Lake Baikal (if the
Caspian Sea is considered a lake, it is
the largest in Eurasia, but is divided between the two geographic
Lake Eyre when filled; the largest permanent (and
freshwater) lake in Oceania is
Lake Ladoga, followed by
Lake Onega, both in northwestern
North America –
Lake Michigan-Huron, which is hydrologically a
single lake. However, lakes Huron and Michigan are usually considered
separate lakes, in which case
Lake Superior would be the largest.
South America –
Lake Titicaca, which is also the highest navigable
body of water on Earth at 3,812 metres (12,507 ft) above sea
level. The much larger
Lake Maracaibo is much older, but perceived by
some to no longer be genuinely a lake for multiple reasons.
Deep water source cooling
List of lakes
List of lakes
List of lakes by area
List of lakes
List of lakes by depth
List of lakes
List of lakes of the United States
List of largest lakes of Europe
Open and closed lakes, for a description of the difference between
exorheic and endorheic lakes
^ Purcell, Adam. "Lakes". Basic Biology.
^ "Dictionary.com definition". Retrieved 2008-06-25.
Caspian Sea is generally regarded by geographers, biologists and
limnologists as a huge inland salt lake. However, the Caspian's large
size means that for some purposes it is better modeled as a sea.
Geologically, the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean seas are remnants
of the ancient Tethys Ocean. Politically, the distinction between a
sea and a lake may affect how the Caspian is treated by international
^ a b c d e f g Esko Kuusisto and Veli Hyvärinen (2000). "Hydrology
of Lakes". In Pertti Heinonen. Hydrological and Limnological Aspects
Lake Monitoring. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 4–5.
ISBN 978-0-470-51113-8. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter
^ Williams, Penny; Whitfield, Mericia; Biggs, Jeremy; Bray, Simon;
Fox, Gill; Nicolet, Pascale; Sear, David (2004). "Comparative
biodiversity of rivers, streams, ditches and ponds in an agricultural
landscape in Southern England" (PDF). Biological Conservation. 115
(2): 329–341. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(03)00153-8. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
^ Moss, Brian; Johnes, Penny; Phillips, Geoffrey (1996). "The
monitoring of ecological quality and the classification of standing
waters in temperate regions:". Biological Reviews. 71 (2): 301–339.
doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.1996.tb00750.x. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
^ "Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS)". Ramsar Convention on
Wetlands. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved 2
^ Elton, Charles Sutherland; Miller, Richard S. (1954). "The
Ecological Survey of Animal Communities: With a Practical System of
Classifying Habitats by Structural Characters". The Journal of
Ecology. British Ecological Society. 42 (2): 460–496.
doi:10.2307/2256872. JSTOR 2256872.
^ Thomas V. Cech (2009). Principles of Water Resources: History,
Development, Management, and Policy. John Wiley & Sons.
p. 83. ISBN 978-0-470-13631-7.
^ M. Shahin (2002).
Hydrology and Water Resources of Africa. Springer.
p. 427. ISBN 978-1-4020-0866-5.
^ Index Copernicus (2004). Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology 2004. Index
Copernicus. p. 381. ISSN 1642-3593.
(Archived April 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.)
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-20. Retrieved
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved
^ Carreck, Rosalind, ed. (1982). The Family Encyclopedia of Natural
History. The Hamlyn Publishing Group. p. 205.
^ Downing, J. A.; Prairie, Y. T.; Cole, J. J.; Duarte, C. M.; Tranvik,
L. J.; Striegl, R. G.; McDowell, W. H.; Kortelainen, P.; Caraco, N.
F.; Melack, J. M. (2006). "The global abundance and size distribution
of lakes, ponds, and impoundments".
Limnology and Oceanography. 51
(5): 2388–2397. doi:10.4319/lo.2006.51.5.2388.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hutchinson, G.E. 1957. A treatise on
limnology, v. 1. Geography, Physics and Chemistry. Wiley. 1015p.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Cohen, A.S., 2003.Paleolimnology: the history
and evolution of lake systems. Oxford University Press.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Håkanson, L., and Jansson, J.,
1983. Principles of
Lake Sedimentology. Springer-Verlag, New York. 320
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Håkanson, L., 2012. Lakes on Earth,
Different Types. In Encyclopedia of Lakes and Reservoirs (pp.
471–472). Springer Netherlands.
^ Johnson, Daniel M.; Petersen, Richard R.; Lycan, D. Richard; Sweet,
James W.; Neuhaus, Mark E., and Schaedel, Andrew L. (1985). Atlas of
Oregon Lakes. Corvallis:
Oregon State University Press.
pp. 96–97. ISBN 0-87071-343-4. CS1 maint: Multiple
names: authors list (link)
^ Veillette, J., Mueller, D.R., Antoniades, D. and Vincent, W.F.,
2008. Arctic epishelf lakes as sentinel ecosystems: Past, present and
future. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 113(G04014).
^ a b Mosley, Paul. "Geomorphology and
Hydrology of Lakes"
^ Schoenherr, Allan A. (2017-07-03). A Natural History of California:
Second Edition. Univ of
^ a b c d e f g h Neuendorf, K.K.E., Mehl Jr., J.P., and Jackson,
J.A., 2005. Glossary of Geology, 5th revised and enlarged ed. Berlin:
Springer. Approx. 900 p. ISBN 3-540-27951-2.
^ Myers, W.B. and Hamilton, W., 1964. The Hebgen Lake, Montana,
earthquake of August 17, 1959. Geological Survey Professional Paper,
^ Maloof, A.C., Stewart, S.T., Weiss, B.P., Soule, S.A.,
Swanson-Hysell, N.L., Louzada, K.L., Garrick-Bethell, I. and Poussart,
P.M., 2010. Geology of lonar crater, India. Geological Society of
America Bulletin, 122(1–2), pp. 109–126.
^ a b Wennrich, V., Andreev, A.A., Tarasov, P.E., Fedorov, G., Zhao,
W., Gebhardt, C.A., Meyer-Jacob, C., Snyder, J.A., Nowaczyk, N.R.,
Schwamborn, G. and Chapligin, B., 2016. Impact processes, permafrost
dynamics, and climate and environmental variability in the terrestrial
Arctic as inferred from the unique 3.6 Myr record of
Far East Russia–A review.
Quaternary Science Reviews, 147, pp.
^ a b Desiage, P.A., Lajeunesse, P., St-Onge, G., Normandeau, A.,
Ledoux, G., Guyard, H. and Pienitz, R., 2015. Deglacial and
postglacial evolution of the Pingualuit
Crater Lake basin, northern
Québec (Canada). Geomorphology, 248, pp. 327–343.
^ Forel, F.A., 1901. Handbuch der Seenkunde. Allgemeine Limnologie. J.
von Engelhorn, Stuttgart, Germany.
^ a b Loffler, H., 1957. Die klimatischen Typen des holomiktischen
Sees. Mitteilungen der Geographischen Gesellschaft, 99, pp. 35–44.
^ a b c d Hutchinson, G.E. and Löffler, H., 1956. The thermal
classification of lakes. Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, 42(2), pp. 84–86.
^ a b Gangstad, E.O., 1979. Glossary of Biolimnological Terms.
United States Army Corps of Engineers. 22 p.
^ Poehls, D.J. and Smith, G.J. eds., 2009. Encyclopedic dictionary of
hydrogeology. Academic Press. p. 517. ISBN 978-0-12-558690-0
^ "Lakes - Aquatic Havens". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
^ a b c d Last, W.M. and Smol, J.P., 2001. Tracking environmental
change using lake sediments. Volume 1: basin analysis, coring, and
chronological techniques. Springer Science & Business Media.
^ Theal, G.M., 1877. Compendium of South African history and
geography, 3rd. Institution Press, Lovedale, South Africa.
^ W. Geller and others (eds.), 2013. Acidic Pit Lakes, Environmental
Science and Engineering, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
^ Patrick, R., Binetti, V.P. and Halterman, S.G., 1981. Acid lakes
from natural and anthropogenic causes. Science, 211(4481), pp.
^ D. Rouwet and others (eds.), 2015. Volcanic Lakes, Advances in
Volcanology, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
^ Witham, F. and Llewellin, E.W., 2006. Stability of lava lakes.
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 158(3), pp. 321–332.
^ Mastrogiuseppe, M., Poggiali, V., Hayes, A., Lorenz, R., Lunine, J.,
Picardi, G., Seu, R., Flamini, E., Mitri, G., Notarnicola, C. and
Paillou, P., 2014. The bathymetry of a Titan sea. Geophysical Research
Letters, 41(5), pp. 1432–1437.
^ a b Cohen, A. S., 2003. Paleolimnology. History and Evolution of
Lake Systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-513353-6
^ Goudie, A., 2008. Arid Climates and Indicators. Gornitz, V. ed.,
2008. Encyclopedia of paleoclimatology and ancient environments.
Springer Science & Business Media. pp 45–51.
^ a b c Manivanan, R., 2008. Water Quality Modeling: Rivers, Streams,
and Estuaries. New
India Publishing, New Delhi, India.
^ Currey, D.R., 1990.
Quaternary palaeolakes in the evolution of
semidesert basins, with special emphasis on
Lake Bonneville and the
Great Basin, USA. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology,
76(3–4), pp. 189–214.
^ Gierlowski-Kordesch, E. and Kelts, K.R. eds., 2000.
Through Space and Time. AAPG Studies in Geology 46 (No. 46). The
American Association of
Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
^ Schnurrenberger, D., Russell, J. and Kelts, K., 2003. Classification
of lacustrine sediments based on sedimentary components. Journal of
Paleolimnology, 29(2), pp. 141–154.
^ Ancient Chinese cultural landscape, the
West Lake of Hangzhou,
inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
^ Forbes, Stephen. "The
Lake as a Microcosm". "Bulletin of the Peoria
Scientific Association" vol. 87, 1887. p. 77-87.
Marsh / lake origins and classification matrix
^ The Montana Standard
^ The Nine Planets Solar System Tour. "Io". Retrieved
^ Council), GMAC (Graduate Management Admission (2014-06-26). The
Official Guide for GMAT Review 2015 with Online Question Bank and
Exclusive Video. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118914106.
^ Andes Website – Information about
Ojos del Salado
Ojos del Salado volcano, a high
mountain in South America and the world's highest volcano
^ "China wetlands" (PDF). Ramsar Wetlands International. p. 77.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-17. Retrieved
Lake and Island Combination
The Wikibook Historical Geology has a page on the topic of: Lakes
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lakes.
Look up lake in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.