The great lakes

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Living in the City of Windsor, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by the Laurentian Great Lakes, the largest group of fresh water lakes on earth! Altogether, these 5 lakes are 22,812 km3, holding 22.81 quadrillion L of fresh surface water (which is 20% of all surface water in the world). If all of the water in the Great Lakes was spread evenly across the continental U.S., the ground would be covered with almost 10 feet of water.

If you stood on the moon, you could see the lakes and recognize the familiar wolf head shape of Lake Superior, or the mitten bounded by lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is by far the largest of the Great Lakes. It is so big that it could hold all of the water in the other Great Lakes, plus three more the size of Lake Erie. It is also the highest and deepest of the great lakes, measuring in at 600 feet above sea level, and as deep as 1332 feet - that is why it is also the coldest!

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, located east of Lake Superior, is the third largest of the Great Lakes. It touches the borders of four states - Wisconsin, Illinois (Chicago is its southern most tip), Indiana and Michigan; it is the only Great Lake located entirely within the United States. On the north, Lake Michigan is connected to Lake Huron at the Straits of Mackinac; the water circulates slowly in this lake before it leaves through the Straits of Mackinac - it actually moves so slow that it would take 99 years before the water could be replaced.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes and has the longest shoreline. It is connected to Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac, and to Lake Superior at the St. Mary's River, and is a passageway for a number of very large ships. It takes 22 years for water to be replaced in Lake Huron.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie, the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes, ranks fourth in size to the other Great Lakes. It receives its water from Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan, and its levels are constantly changing. It only takes the water in Lake Erie about 2.6 years to be replaced.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is the easternmost and smallest of the Great Lakes. It is from here that ships will pass through the Saint Lawrence River and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Ontario lies 325 ft (99 m) below Lake Erie, at the base of Niagara Falls. Until locks were built, boats could not pass into the other lakes.


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