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Lake Profile


General Information

Description Lake Michigan is the sixth largest lake in the world by volume. Lake Michigan is the only Laurentian Great Lake that does not share a border with Canada.
Country United States of America
Latitude 44° 0' 0" (44.0000)
Longitude -87° 0' 0" (-87.0000)
State Illinois
Lake Region Laurentian Great Lakes
River Basin Saint Lawrence


 Michigan global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Largest Lakes in the World by Area (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Largest Lakes of the World by Volume (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Laurentian Great Lakes locator map
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)

Physical Characteristics

Volume 4,920.00 km3
Surface Area 57,800.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 85.0 m
Maximum depth: 282.0 m
Residence Time 99.0 years
Age 0 - 10,000 years before present
Origin Glacial
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 118,100.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 2:1


Economic Value Half of Canadian manufacturing and one-fifth of U.S. manufacturing are based on the Great Lakes freshwater coasts. The binational region accounts for about 60 percent of steel production in North America. Pulp and paper plants, high tech and chemical industries, and other light manufacturing use the region's lakes for water and transportation of goods. (GLIN, 2003)
Major Cities Chicago, Illinois U.S.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin U.S.

Watershed Management

Watershed Action Plan Implementation underway
Other Issues Climate Change
Health Advisories - Fish
Health Advisories - Swimming
Invasive Species
Nutrient pollution
Polluted runoff
Sand mining
Sediment contamination
Urbanization and sprawl
Specific Contaminants Mercury
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality
Biological Resources and Habitats
Lake Use

Biodiversity Conservation

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
WWF Global 200
WWF Freshwater Eco-Region - Michigan-Huron
WWF Conservation Status Priority III
Species of Concern
Biological Distinctiveness Continentally outstanding


Council of Great Lakes Governors
Great Lakes Information Network
International Joint Commission
TEACH Great Lakes
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Inland Seas Education Association
Michigan Land Use Institute
Great Lakes United
Wisconsin Lake Partnerships
Wisconsin Association of Lakes
Great Lakes National Program Office
U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center
Michigan Sea Grant
Great Lakes Protection Fund
Great Lakes Commission
International Association for Great Lakes Research
Steering Committee of the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Great Lakes Interagency Task Force
Lake County Land Trust Organization
Lake County Health Deparment (Illinois)
Healing Our Waters
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
Exchanges Among Environmental Specialists on 20 Lakes in the Former Soviet Union and in Eastern & Central Europe
LakeNet 2000: A Dialogue on Participatory Watershed Management
Japanese NGO Delegation Visits U.S., June 2003
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas
U.S. NGO Delegation Visit to Japan, March 2003


Great Lakes (North American)  (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. MacDonagh-Dumler et al.. 2/27/2006.
LakeNet News, Winter 2003-2004 (PDF)  Newsletter. Final. English. 12/20/2003.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.


2005 Invasive Species Education Program
A Methodology For Identifying and Classifying Aquatic Biodiversity Investment Areas: Application in the Great Lakes Basin
Actions Toward a Sustainable Great Lakes
An electronic atlas of Great Lakes ice cover, winters 1973 - 2002
Bi-National Strategy for the Virtual Elimination of Persistent Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes Basin
Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Biodiversity of freshwater mussels in the lower Great Lakes drainage basin (1997)
Canada-US Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Lake Michigan
GLNPO: Lake Michigan Web Page
Great Lakes Basin Water Management Initiative: Sustainable Water Resources Agreement
Great Lakes Monitoring Programs
Great Lakes Strategy 2002: A Plan for the New Millennium
Human Dimensions of Great Lakes Fisheries Management
ILEC Database
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Introduction to Great Lakes traditional culture
Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan
Lake Michigan Mass Balance Study
Large Lakes of the World: Advances in Modeling
Large-Scale Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons for Existing and Emerging Initiatives
Mercury in Freshwaters
Michigan Advisory Number 105
Michigan Land Use Institute
Michigan Land Use Institute's top ten priorities of the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council
Michigan Sea Grant: Publications Catalogue
Michigan Watershed Organizations
Priority Areas for Conservation of Aquatic Biodiversity in the Western Great Lakes Basin
Sediment Transforms Lake Michigan
The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Basin: Issues & Opportunities
Vanishing Lake Michigan sand dunes: threats from mining (1999)
Wisconsin's Aquatic Sciences Center


12/3/2013 - DNA of Eurasian ruffe found for first time in southern Lake Michigan
9/5/2013 - Drugs Contaminate Lake Michigan
4/18/2013 - Flooding forces sewage to be diverted into Lake Michigan
2/1/2013 - Great Lakes: Huron, Michigan break all-time low water records
1/10/2013 - New Great Lakes Map Highlights Environmental Threats and Opportunities
1/4/2013 - Lakes Michigan and Huron Fall to Record Low Levels
12/17/2012 - Environmental Threat Map Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Challenges
11/20/2012 - Warming Lakes: Climate Change and Variability Drive Low Water Levels on the Great Lakes
10/18/2012 - Hundreds of bird deaths sound alarm on problems in the Great Lakes
10/17/2012 - Great Lakes levels near all-time low
9/2/2012 - Dropping Lake Michigan level affects homes, boats
7/13/2012 - US and Canada: Report says Asian carp could thrive in Great Lakes
7/13/2012 - New risk assessment validates threat from Asian carp and points to Chicago-area waterways as most likely pathway into the Great Lakes
3/10/2012 - Great Lakes ice coverage falls 71 percent over 40 years, researcher says
1/1/2012 - Great Lakes: Closing off the Carp
2/25/2010 - Great goals for the Great Lakes
1/14/2009 - Great Lakes Water Levels Sensitive To Climate Change
10/9/2007 - Great Lakes Commission urges IJC to accelerate St. Clair River study
3/17/2007 - Summertime Lake Michigan level expected to drop further
2/11/2007 - 'Fish Ebola virus' threatens lakes (U.S.)
2/5/2007 - Data shows warming eventually will shrink Great Lakes
9/18/2006 - Is Lake Michigan draining? (U.S.)
8/4/2006 - Great Lakes Forever, Budweiser, and Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers Coast Into Partnership to Protect the Great Lakes
5/8/2006 - Group reviewing dated Great Lakes treaty
1/12/2006 - 'Troubled waters' report addresses Lake Michigan supply, restrictions
12/21/2005 - Watershed Council hails recent Great Lakes initiatives; question funding commitment
12/14/2005 - 2 pacts prohibit diversion of Great Lakes water
5/22/2005 - It's Asian carp against the current (Illinois, USA)
5/18/2005 - City sewer systems pollute Great Lakes (Chicago, IL, USA)
4/20/2005 - Invasive species in most Great Lakes ships
4/7/2005 - Disappearing Lakes, Shrinking Seas
2/17/2005 - Lake Michigan showing signs of ecological breakdown
1/25/2005 - Drop in Lake Michigan's level is man-made, report finds
1/24/2005 - Drain in Great Lakes is open, report says
1/18/2005 - Immediate action sought to protect Great Lakes from invaders
12/17/2004 - Environmental groups file brief in Great Lakes beach case
12/11/2004 - Lake Michigan is showing signs of vulnerability - or even ecological breakdown
12/1/2004 - Electronic barrier to guard Great Lakes
10/22/2004 - Parliamentary committee to study Great Lakes deal
10/15/2004 - Snakehead ‘Frankenfish’ rears its ugly head in Lake Michigan
9/17/2004 - Great Lakes Plagued By Pollution
8/25/2004 - Pollutants linger in lakes, EPA report says
7/19/2004 - Great Lakes speak out on invasive species
7/16/2004 - New Great Lakes rules expected on Monday
6/24/2004 - Senate boosts plan to build carp barrier
5/23/2004 - Great Lakes conservation efforts taking a dive with politics
5/19/2004 - Federal task force to lead Great Lakes clean-up
5/13/2004 - Corps of Engineers vs. carp: The fight for the Great Lakes
5/6/2004 - Gulls reflect change in Great Lakes pollutants
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
4/8/2004 - Native cormorants? Not in Great Lakes
3/13/2004 - Cox shouldn't ignore issue of tainted ship water
2/10/2004 - Time for Immediate Action to Protect the Great Lakes from Invasion
1/29/2004 - Bush administration proposes major new funding for Great Lakes clean-up
1/27/2004 - Leading Great Lakes Citizen's Groups call on Bush Administration to halt changes to sewage pathogen policy
1/19/2004 - Biologists help prehistoric fish make a comeback
12/14/2003 - Futuristic high-speed catamaran ferry plies uncharted waters in lake travel
11/8/2003 - Study: dioxins may have wiped out Laurentian Great Lakes trout
10/23/2003 - Students collect information no lake Michigan agency has collected
10/22/2003 - One mayor makes a difference & update on federal Great Lakes legislation
10/18/2003 - Leaders sober, hopeful after touring polluted sites in White Lake, Michigan
10/16/2003 - Cause, spread of Lake Michigan algae discussed
10/11/2003 - Scientists study Lake Michigan for a new class of pollutants
9/23/2003 - Michigan state receives a failing grade on enforcement of clean water laws
8/11/2003 - More bald eagles signal cleaner lakes
8/11/2003 - Rare Japanese bird spotted at Lake Michigan
6/9/2003 - Commercial use of aquifers could strain Great Lakes
5/24/2003 - Zebra mussels spread to Wind Lake
5/15/2003 - Five dozen scientists call invasive species the most urgent environmental threat to the Great Lakes & Mississippi River Basin: Barriers urged for area rivers
4/30/2003 - Toxic algae threatens Great Lakes; U.S. funding is sought to combat outbreaks
3/17/2003 - Lake Michigan level could affect local economy
3/16/2003 - Michigan worried thirsty states may be eyeing Great Lakes
2/27/2003 - New food chain threat musseling into Laurentian Great Lakes
2/15/2003 - Army engineers get funds for electric barrier in Lake Michigan
2/11/2003 - Organism is disappearing from Great Lakes
2/7/2003 - More foreign invaders threaten Great Lakes
2/2/2003 - Manistee firm studies effluent
2/1/2003 - Saving Canada's endangered mussels
12/9/2002 - New report on urban nonpoint source pollution released for Great Lakes policymakers
11/25/2002 - Eliminating mercury in sewage treatment
10/21/2002 - Tests find drug taint in water
10/20/2002 - Whitefish population doing fine, experts say
10/19/2002 - Alien species named lakes' top enemy
9/19/2002 - Invasive perch nearing Lake Winnebago
9/16/2002 - Teacher discovers 1886 shipwreck in Lake Michigan
8/30/2002 - Invasive fish found in Lake Michigan
7/21/2002 - Scientists recommend a fresh look at fresh water
7/12/2002 - Experts say big Asian carp threatens Great Lakes
5/6/2002 - Mapping underground water supplies
5/2/2002 - Research using water turbulence to direct juvenile fish away from hydropower intakes could save fish & money
3/17/2002 - Fouled waterway list in Indiana soars to 485
2/7/2002 - Scientists identify the right bacteria to "eat" pollutants at steel plant near Lake Michigan (US)
10/19/2001 - Zebra mussels linked to virtual collapse of important crustacean in Lakes Michigan & Huron
10/15/2001 - Diving rover recruited to tour 1895 shipwreck
10/12/2001 - Billions of gallons of sewage enters Michigan waterways (US)
9/29/2001 - Tagged sturgeon may provide key population info
9/18/2001 - Oil and gas drilling to resume beneath Lakes Huron and Michigan
9/11/2001 - Looking for lampreys
8/29/2001 - Radio waves may help in the fight against zebra mussels
7/12/2001 - Multibillion dollar value of not using Lake Michigan birds, fish
12/20/2000 - Bluewater Network and National Park Service reach agreement over jet ski lawsuit
8/4/2000 - Scientists try shock treatment for invaders (US, Canada)
11/9/1999 - Toxic mud fouls U.S. waters
11/2/1999 - New water flea invades southern Lake Michigan
2/17/1998 - In search of bad weather: scientists study lake-effect winter storms
10/15/1997 - National awards set pace for watershed protection

Additional Data Sources

Abell, R. and D. Olson, E. Dinerstein, P. Hurley et al. 2000. Freshwater ecoregions of North America. Island Press. Washington, D.C.
Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.
Munawar, M. And R. Hecky. 2001. The Great Lakes of the World (GLOW) Food-web, Health & Integrity. Backhuys Publishers, The Netherlands.
US EPA (2004) National Listing of Fish Advisories Database

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