Dixon, John C. Department of Geography, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Last reviewed:April 2016
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- Water characteristics
- Environmental considerations
- Additional Readings
An inland body of standing water occupying a depression on the Earth's surface. The surface of a lake is exposed to the atmosphere; in addition, subterranean lakes occur. The term lake includes expanded parts of rivers, reservoirs behind dams, and lake basins intermittently or previously covered with water. Small lakes are usually called ponds, tarns (in mountains), and less frequently pools or meres. Lakes are variable in size, with most lakes being less than 65 ft (20 m) in depth. Collectively, lakes cover approximately 9.6 × 105 mi2 (2.5 × 106 km2) of the Earth's surface (see table). The largest lake basins together hold about 40% of the Earth's freshwater supplies; about half this volume is contained in a single lake basin, Lake Baikal. See also: Hydrosphere
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