Visit the great lakes of North America

Great Lakes of America.

America’s Great Lakes: unique freshwater mirrors

Lakes are often called the pearls of the Earth. There are hundreds of thousands of them on our planet: completely different, large and small, tropical and circumpolar. Each of them has its own feature, its own mystery, however small. Among this great diversity there is a number of lakes, known throughout the world, which are, indeed, the ornament of the whole continent. These are the Great American Lakes.

Without them the North American continent is unthinkable.

This unique system of lakes is located on the border of the USA and Canada. Even an attempt to describe them turns, in fact, into a listing of records. Most reference books inform that the system consists of the “magnificent five”: Lakes Superior, Guron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario. Sometimes Lake St. Clair is added to these, although it is much smaller in area.

There is another peculiarity. Lakes Guron and Michigan are connected not simply by rivers, as all other lakes in the system, but by a wide strait. In addition, their surface level is exactly the same. Based on this, strictly hydrographically, these two must be considered one body of water, but this approach is inconvenient in economic sense, and contrary, if I may say so, to the established popular habit.

Great Lakes amaze by their scale. Their total area – a little more than 244 thousand km², the volume of water – 22 671 km³. Hydrologists have calculated that the Great Lakes basin contains 18% of the world’s freshwater. And how not to compare them with the pearl of Russia, Lake Baikal! It’s about 7.5 times smaller in area, but Baikal has even a little more water than the Great Lakes – 24% of the world’s freshwater reserves!

Great Lakes of America

The comparison, in particular, unequivocally suggests that despite their huge area, the Great Lakes are relatively shallow. Indeed, the largest among them, Lake Superior, has an average depth of only 147 meters (Baikal has 744 meters).

The northern shores of lakes are mostly wooded, sparsely populated, suitable for recreation and tourism. A network of important industrial centers emerged along the southern shores.

All the lakes are connected by rivers and narrow straits. They flow into several hundred rivers, but they are all small, local. Only one big river, the St. Lawrence, flows out of the system. It carries the fresh water of the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

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The flow of water in this river significantly exceeds the amount that comes to the lakes with small rivulets. The fact is that the giants are fed mainly by underground sources and atmospheric precipitation.

The topography of the continent where the lakes are located has a general slope from north to south. Thus, the northernmost of the giants, Lake Superior, also has the greatest height above sea level. The farther south you go, the lower the level of the next lake is. The biggest difference is between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario: between them flows the Niagara River with its world-famous waterfall.

The lakes are incredibly rich in fish, it’s a real Klondike for fishing enthusiasts. It is estimated that the Great Lakes are home to 174 species of fish!

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History of America’s Great Lakes System

Geologists have determined that the Great Lakes system formed, by historical standards, quite recently, about 12,000 years ago. At that time, almost the entire surface of North America was covered by a thick layer of ice, apparently reaching at least a kilometer. The mass of ice pressed through the Earth’s crust to form lenses of sorts. These lenses gradually deepened under the action of the glacier: it raked out their bottom, like a giant bulldozer.

When the glacial period on the planet ended, the mass of ice melted, and some of its waters were in the depressions, as if trapped. Thus was formed what is now called the Great American Lakes. By studying the chemical composition of the fossils, scientists have concluded that, in ancient times, the water temperatures in the lakes were much lower than they are now.

The amount of water in the lake system is slowly but steadily decreasing. However, this trend is observed all over the planet.

A brief description of the Great Lakes of America

Each of the Great American Lakes is unique, worthy of a separate large description. Here we will be able to list only the most general information.

Lake Superior

Even among such gigantic bodies of water, it is a giant! Suffice it to say that the volume of water in the lake is about equal to the total volume of the remaining four lakes of the “big five”. Among its records the following should be mentioned:

  • The largest freshwater lake on the planet by area;
  • Deepest among the Great Lakes;
  • The most northern in this group, and the most elevated in relation to the World Ocean – 186 m above its level;
  • During storms the height of waves here exceeds 10 meters.
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The Upper is located mostly in Canada; its northern shores are usually rocky and forested, while the southern ones are gentle and sandy. The St. Marys River flows out of it, flowing into the Huron. It washes into the states of Minnesota and Michigan.

Lake Guron

The shoreline of Lake Guron is incredibly indented, and is more than 6 thousand kilometers! (For comparison, it is only 3,440 km from Moscow to Madrid). As already mentioned, the lake is connected to Lake Michigan by the wide (3 km. wide) Strait of Machino.

Great Lakes of America Lake Huron

The characteristic thing is that Guron has about 30,000 islands, among which the largest is Manitoulin Island. It is noteworthy at least because it has the title of the largest island on Earth, located in a freshwater lake. On it would fit the state of Luxembourg, and still there would be some free space. There are lakes on Manitoulin, too, among them the large one, Manitou. And this is not the whole “matryoshka”, Manitou has its own islands with lakes!

The average depth of Guron is 59 meters. It washes the U.S. state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.

Lake Michigan.

Of all the Great Lakes, this is the only one located exclusively in the United States. Its average depth is 85 meters, the shoreline length is more than 1.5 thousand km. Several months of the year the lake is covered with ice. The lake suffers from the industrial load, because such a large city as Chicago is located in close proximity. In recent decades, state authorities have been doing a lot to improve the environmental picture in Michigan, and there has been great success in this direction.

Great Lakes of America Lake Michigan

Lake Erie

It stretches from southwest to northeast for 390 km. The average depth is 19 meters. Predominantly located in the U.S., but enters the Canadian province of Ontario as well. Due to the shallow depth, the lake waters are well heated, so there is excellent fishing, as well as many fry farms. However, the lake has so-called “dead zones” associated with phosphorite pollution. In the last 20 years, these areas have been significantly reduced. Also the shores of Lake Erie are famous for their vineyards, because the climate here is milder than in similar latitude, but distant from the water.

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Lake Ontario

The smallest among the “Big Five”, with an average depth of 86 meters. It closes the whole system, dumping water into the Atlantic. The largest cities in the vicinity are Toronto, Kingston and Rochester. The proximity of the ocean and shallow depth means that the lake never freezes, there are almost no storms. There are many reservations and places for organized family vacations on the coast; not for nothing does the lake’s name translate from the Huron Indian language as “beautiful”.

Interesting facts about the Great Lakes of America

The entire system of the Great Lakes of America is a huge network of canals, rivers, shipping routes, the total length of which exceeds 3 thousand kilometers. The lakes provide jobs and water for tens of millions of people. The total length of the shoreline of the unique lake system is about 18,000 km, far exceeding the length of the U.S. land border!

It is noteworthy that the lakes, especially the largest ones, often have storms with huge waves. It is estimated that over the past two centuries more than 600 ships have sunk in the waters of the Five!

During WWII, American pilots used the Great Lakes to practice takeoffs and landings on aircraft carriers. Training was passed by 18 thousand pilots and about 300 planes were sunk!

Rather mystical is a little-understood phenomenon when the lakes, in perfectly calm, windless weather, huge waves rise with crushing force on the shores. The Indians called this phenomenon “the three sisters. The scientific explanation is that the bottom of the lakes occasionally fluctuates sharply. The fact that nearby seismic stations do not register any underground shocks remains a mystery.

Entire books could be written about the Great American Lakes. They were a cradle for many Indian tribes, around them the first European settlements were formed. And now these natural gems have become indispensable for the two great powers, the United States and Canada, fitting in well with their economy and culture, being the decoration of an entire continent, and, in fact, the heritage of the entire planet.

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What are the Great Lakes?

The Great Lakes are five lakes in the U.S. and Canada, are a kind of Lake Baikal in America and hold 18% of the world’s fresh water.

The Great Lakes are unique. They are located in two countries (USA and Canada) and are connected by a network of rivers and canals, forming a water system. These freshwater lakes are called “great lakes” for a reason, there are 5 of them in total, the volume of drinking water in them is 22,671 km3 and the total area is 244,106 km2. Without this huge basin, much of North America would be without water.

There are upper lakes: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Guron, and lower lakes: Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

The Upper is more than 400 meters deep. The Michigan and Huron provide water for such major U.S. cities as Chicago and Detroit, and between the Erie and Ontario is the magnificent Niagara Falls. According to one version, these unique waters were formed after the melting of the glaciers. Scientists have determined from the chemical composition of the fossils that the water in the lakes was once much colder. It took more than a hundred thousand years for the ice flow to carve out five of the largest pools on earth.

Lake Superior

The most majestic of the five is Lake Superior. In a storm, its waves are up to 12 meters high. The volume of the lake is second only to Lake Baikal (the deepest and cleanest lake in the world). Along the coast there are many places for recreation and camping, which tourists are happy to visit in the summer. Scientific research is done here all year round.

Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan, which means “big water” in Native American, is 2,500 miles long and resembles the Pacific Coast. It surprises even the most fickle tourists. Holidays near this reservoir elite and expensive pleasure, and the most popular activity among locals and visitors here is fishing.

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Lake Guron

The name Guron comes from the Native American tribe of Huron, who formerly lived along its shores. The reservoir contains a huge number of islands (about 30 thousand), many of which are natural and historical reserves. Guron water is clean and clear, but it only heats up to +14 – +16 degrees.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes. Its waters and favorable environment have a great influence on the emergence of many different fish, which makes the body of water very popular for fishing. On the banks of the Erie the best grapes are grown. Agriculture and shipping are well developed here.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is like a vast blue sea, and the city of Toronto, near Lake Ontario, is a great entertainment center for families during the summer. The large port cities of Hamilton, Rochester and Kingston are situated on the lake’s low-lying shores. Because of its shallow depth, it never freezes or storms, making it ideal for agriculture.

Researchers believe that the lakes contain about 18% of the world’s freshwater supply. The Great Lakes basin is home to more than 174 species of fish (perch, salmon, carp families, etc.). The best bass fishing in the world, according to scientists, takes place in these very places.

Groundwater is the main source of food for the vast basin. And the famous reservoirs themselves supply water to more than 30 million people living in Canada and the United States. The main activities of the population are industry, trade, tourism, communication. Because of the large concentration of pollution, reduction of fish number and presence of dangerous chemicals in reservoirs, in 1972 an agreement was signed between the United States and Canada to improve water quality in the Great Lakes basin, on which countries have allocated several million dollars.

People from all over the world are eager to visit this unique natural monument. Tourists call the place a “resort paradise”. They go there in search of unforgettable experiences, fresh healthy water, and clean air, which is enough for everyone.

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