European Lakes of Special Interest

Much of European's limnological understanding is traditionally based on research in lakes in Western Europe, and the oldest limnological stations were founded in Western Europe, i.e., in Plon, Germany in 1891 and in Lunz, Austria in 1905. In particular, research results from the largest lakes in Western Europe such as Lake Leman and Lake Constance reached international recognition as large lakes are worldwide regarded as fascinating. However, focusing limnological research on lakes in Western Europe gives a misleading picture of lakes in Europe. Most lakes, including the 18 largest lakes of Europe are located in Northern Europe in the boreal region (Table 1). These largest lakes are internationally not well known, probably because the lakes are located in sparsely populated regions and consequently of little general interest. Lakes in the boreal region are generally underrepresented when reading limnological publications. Considering that global biogeochemical cycles are affected by exchange processes between the lake water surface area and the atmosphere, more focus should be on limnological research of lakes in the boreal region since here the total lake water surface area exceeds by far the total lake water surface area of other European regions.

Apart from the large natural lakes, Europe has a variety of large artificial lakes, the largest being Lake Yssel (1250 km2) in the Central Netherlands, where intensive research activities are ongoing. Artificial lakes, also known as reservoirs, are of

Table 1 Europe's largest natural lakes by area

Lake

Country

Lake

Mean

Max

name

area

depth

depth

(km2)

(m)

(m)

Ladoga

Russia

17 e70

51

258

Onega

Russia

9e70

30

120

Vanern

Sweden

5e70

27

106

Peipsi

Russia,

3570

23

47

Estonia

Vattern

Sweden

1912

39

128

Vygozero

Russia

1285

7

20

Saimaa

Finland

1147

12

82

Malaren

Sweden

1140

13

e1

Il'men'

Russia

1124

3

10

Beloye

Russia

1120

4

20

Inari

Finland

1102

14

9e

Paijanne

Finland

1054

17

98

Topozero

Russia

1025

15

5e

Oulujarvi

Finland

893

8

35

Pielinen

Finland

8e7

10

e0

Segozero

Russia

781-910

23

97

Imandra

Russia

845

1e

e7

Pyaozero

Russia

ee0-754

15

49

Balaton

Hungary

59e

3

11

Leman

Switzerland,

584

153

310

France

Constance

Germany,

540

90

252

Switzerland, Austria

Switzerland, Austria

Source: EEA 1995.

high interest, since they are used for the supply of drinking water. The proportion of reservoirs compared to natural lakes increases toward Southern Europe where water needs to be stored to supply densely populated areas.

The largest lakes are usually not the deepest lakes. Well-known deep lakes are the lakes in the Alps. Europe's deepest lake, however, is located in Northern Europe in Norway, named Hornindalsvatnet. It is a fjord lake, i.e., a land-locked lake in a narrow, glacially deepened valley adjacent to the sea. Its maximum depth is 514 m.

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