Portal:Lakes

The Lakes Portal
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Introduction

Lake Sevan is the largest body of water in Armenia and the Caucasus region. It is one of the largest freshwater high-altitude (alpine) lakes in Eurasia

A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, 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, although like the much larger oceans, they form part of earth's water cycle. Lakes are distinct from lagoons which are generally coastal parts of the ocean. They are generally larger and deeper than ponds, which also lie on land, though there are no official or scientific definitions. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams, which are usually flowing in a channel on land. 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, where a river channel has widened into a basin. 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, recreational purposes, or other activities. (Full article...)

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Satellite image of subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Image credit: NASA

A subglacial lake is a lake that is found under a glacier, typically beneath an ice cap or ice sheet. Subglacial lakes form at the boundary between ice and the underlying bedrock, where gravitational pressure decreases the pressure melting point of ice. Over time, the overlying ice gradually melts at a rate of a few millimeters per year. Meltwater flows from regions of high to low hydraulic pressure under the ice and pools, creating a body of liquid water that can be isolated from the external environment for millions of years.

Since the first discoveries of subglacial lakes under the Antarctic Ice Sheet, more than 400 subglacial lakes have been discovered in Antarctica, beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet, and under Iceland's Vatnajökull ice cap. Subglacial lakes contain a substantial proportion of Earth's liquid freshwater, with the volume of Antarctic subglacial lakes alone estimated to be about 10,000 km3, or about 15% of all liquid freshwater on Earth.

As ecosystems isolated from Earth's atmosphere, subglacial lakes are influenced by interactions between ice, water, sediments, and organisms. They contain active biological communities of extremophilic microbes that are adapted to cold, low-nutrient conditions and facilitate biogeochemical cycles independent of energy inputs from the sun. Subglacial lakes and their inhabitants are of particular interest in the field of astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial life. (Full article...)
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