Geographical Specifications of Lake Superior
Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes of North America, is also the largest freshwater lake in the world. It stretches approximately 350 miles from west to east and 160 miles from north to south. Its total surface area covers 31,700 square miles, with an average depth of 483 feet and a maximum depth of about 1,300 feet. In regards to land area, it is the world’s largest lake with an area covering roughly the size of South Carolina. With such a large and expansive land area, it is no wonder that this lake is also known to contain 10% of the world’s freshwater.
History and Formation of Lake Superior
Historically, Lake Superior has been a vast and reliable source of food and connecting transportation for Native American tribes. The formation of this lake occurred around 10,000 years ago, post-Ice Age, when the retreating sheets of ice opened the lake’s path to the Saint Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. To this day, the lake’s shore plays host to many important historical sites, such as the portage routes that were often used by fur traders, missionaries and American soldiers.
Relative Size of Lake Superior
Lake Superior is considered to be the largest freshwater lake in the world. In total, it is the tenth-largest lake on the planet, as measured by its surface area. One of the most incredible facts about this lake is that it is known to contain roughly enough water to fill North America’s Great Lakes, from Lake Erie to Lake Huron, three times over. Indeed, its size is so vast that its surface area is not only greater than those of the previously mentioned four Great Lakes combined, but also greater than the combined area of all land east of the Mississippi River.
Chart of Miles for Lake Superior
Scientifically speaking, Lake Superior is made up of 2,900 miles of shoreline and 7,000 miles of bays and inlets. Of this area, the shoreline length of the U.S. to Canadian boundary is approximately 476 miles. The surface of the lake is a mere 579 feet above sea level, making it the greatest of the entire Great Lakes. In addition, the lake’s maximum depth is 1,335 feet, and the greatest volume of water contained within it is 2,900 cubic miles. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to 9,920 billion gallons of water.
Pollution and Preserving Lake Superior
The water in the lake is still clean and of high-quality, despite the number of factories and commercial farms that are situated in its surrounding area. Unfortunately, the lake is not immune to environmental issues, as a number of pollutants have been found within its waters. These have lead to significant declines in fish populations and other aquatic life, as well as an increase in algae over the years. Fortunately, the Clean Water Act of 1972 reduced the levels of these pollutants in the lake but, more must be done to protect it.
Importance of Lake Superiors
The importance of Lake Superior reaches far beyond its impressive environmental qualities. It is of economic importance to the populations in the US and Canada, who utilize it for transportation and tourism purposes. Additionally, it is home to a number of travel and fishing destinations, as well as harboring a number of historic sites. As such, the lake is vital for the well-being of the local populations and arguably, for the rest of the world too.
Cultural Impact of Lake Superior
Lake Superior has gained a reputation for influencing the culture and folklore of the regions in which it occupies; Native American tribes equate it with legend, and many of the songs, poems and stories are related to its impressive size, deep depths and mysterious creature-filled depths. Furthermore, the reputation it has as a time-honored wilderness is often seen to be one of the reasons why canoeists and kayakers still flock to its shores, despite the threats it faces.
Chemical Composition of Lake Superior
The chemical composition of Lake Superior is largely attributed to its surrounding area. Its waters are composed of roughly 40% finer rock particles, 30% sand and silt, 20% clay and 10% organic matter. The salts that are found in the lake range between 4 and 15 parts per million, and these gradually increase in the lake’s deeper waters. In general, the lake’s chemical composition is very low in comparison to other large and deep water bodies, because of its geographical location.
International and Maritime Boundaries of Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the only one of the five Great Lakes that shares a maritime boundary with only one country; Canada. This maritime boundary is regulated under a border agreement that was formed in 1909, and extends for 499 miles along the lake. Interestingly, the lake also belongs to two international states, although the majority of it, approximately 86%, is owned by the United States of America.
Air Pollution Reducing Visibility of Lake Superior
Due to a phenomenon known as air pollution decreasing visibility, Lake Superior’s shoreline has become increasingly dreamlike and ethereal. This stems from the plethora of air pollutants such as those found in road and construction vehicle exhaust, which have caused the waters to become more hazy and the horizon to blur. As a result of this, a lack of clarity and an obscured shoreline have added to the beauty of the lake’s expanse, though it is vital that efforts to reduce air pollution increase if we are to preserve this for years to come.
Climate Change Impacting Lake Superior
Global warming and climate change are having a significant effect on the Great Lakes – and Lake Superior is no exception to this. The temperatures of the lake’s waters have been steadily increasing over the years and this has had a substantial effect on the migratory patterns of green herons, white pelicans and yellow perch, three iconic species that are commonly associated with the lake’s shore. Additionally, the rates of storm occurrence have increased and natural algal blooms have become more frequent.
Invasive Species Impacting Lake Superior
Lake Superior also hosts a number of invasive species that are threatening the already weakened biodiversity present there. These include species such as fish, insect, and bird species, as well as aquatic plants that have been introduced to the lake over time. Of course, native species have also been affected, with their habitats becoming increasingly less diverse and their food resources becoming increasingly depleted. It is therefore essential that the invasive species in the lake are managed to ensure that the local wildlife population is preserved.
Lake Superior is an extraordinary lake that has withstood the test of time and continues to be of immense importance to both the United States and Canada, as well as its many visitors. Its impressive area, deep depths and long shoreline make it a perfect natural wonder to explore, though it is vital that we protect it and its surrounding environment to ensure its future stability.