Lakes of Europe are characterized by the climate, geological history, land use, and atmospheric deposition. The climate of Europe differs from other continents due to the strong influence of the Gulf Stream, bringing warm air masses to northern latitudes. At European northern latitudes, lakes show similar characteristics to lakes in Canada and the Asian part of Russia, all being classified as boreal lakes. In some areas, these boreal lakes at northern latitudes are subjected to acidification processes.
Lakes in the central continental region of Europe are similar to lakes in other regions that are heavily influenced by agriculture and grassland. These lakes face problems of eutrophication. Further south in the Mediterranean region, the problem of eutrophication becomes even more severe due to a dry and hot summer climate. Here harmful algal blooms are frequently observed, similar to those in other warm, densely populated regions of the world.
Rather specific for Europe are the lakes in the Alps. Lakes in steep mountainous regions occur also in other parts of the world but these lakes are usually located far away from densely populated areas. In contrast, the population density around the lakes in the Alps is generally high, resulting in intensive recreational use that affects the lakes.
Europe is presently striving to achieve a good ecological status of its waters by implementing the European Water Framework Directive. Data are collected from all member states of the European Union and waters are classified according to their ecological status. The most efficient ways to achieve a good ecological status of European inland waters depend on further research.
See also: Abundance and Size Distribution of Lakes, Ponds and Impoundments; Geomorphology of Lake Basins; Mixing Dynamics in Lakes Across Climatic Zones; Origins of Types of Lake Basins; Shallow Lakes and Ponds.
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