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Lake Profile


The "Niagara" in Erie, PA.

General Information

Description Lake Erie is the smallest of the Laurentian Great Lakes by volume, but its watershed is the mostly densely populated. The Lake Erie drainage basin covers parts of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario in Canada.
Country Canada
United States of America
Latitude 42° 10' 0" (42.1667)
Longitude -81° 0' 0" (-81.0000)
State Michigan
New York
Lake Region Laurentian Great Lakes
River Basin Saint Lawrence


 Erie 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 484.00 km3
Surface Area 25,700.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 19.0 m
Maximum depth: 64.0 m
Residence Time 2.6 years
Age 10,000 - 99,999 years before present
Origin Glacial
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 78,000.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 3:1


Economic Value
Major Cities Cleveland, Ohio U.S.
Buffalo, New York U.S.
Detroit, Michigan U.S.
Toledo, Ohio U.S.

Watershed Management

Description In 1999, the Binational Executive Committee passed a directive to accelerate the Lakewide Management Plan effort. The Committee recommended that a Lakewide Management Plan be developed for each of the Great Lakes by 2000 and that there be updates every two years. (See links to both 2000 and 2002 plans under Resources).
Watershed Action Plan Implementation underway
Other Issues Nutrient pollution
Health Advisories - Fish
Invasive Species
Polluted runoff
Specific Contaminants Industrial
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality

Water Quality

Biodiversity Conservation

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
WWF Global 200
WWF Freshwater Eco-Region - Erie
WWF Conservation Status Priority V
Species of Concern
Biological Distinctiveness Nationally Important


Council of Great Lakes Governors
Great Lakes Information Network
International Joint Commission
Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Great Lakes United
Great Lakes National Program Office
U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center
Great Lakes Protection Fund
Great Lakes Commission
International Association for Great Lakes Research
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Ohio State University Stone Laboratory at Gibraltar Island
Huron River Watershed Council
Great Lakes Interagency Task Force
Lake Erie Coastal Ohio
Healing Our Waters
Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network
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
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 Erie
GLNPO: Lake Erie 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
Introduction to Great Lakes traditional culture
Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan
Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan Update (2002)
Large Lakes of the World: Advances in Modeling
Large-Scale Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons for Existing and Emerging Initiatives
Marsh Monitoring Program
The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Basin: Issues & Opportunities


10/31/2013 - Asian Carp Reproducing Naturally in Great Lakes Tributary
4/23/2013 - Harmful Algae Blooms Plague Lake Erie Again
4/12/2013 - New Concerns About Plastic Pollution in Great Lakes ‘Garbage Patch’
4/1/2013 - Extreme Algal Blooms: The New Normal?
1/10/2013 - New Great Lakes Map Highlights Environmental Threats and Opportunities
12/17/2012 - Environmental Threat Map Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Challenges
11/28/2012 - Algae, Invaders Threaten Lake Erie
10/17/2012 - Great Lakes levels near all-time low
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
7/13/2012 - US and Canada: Report says Asian carp could thrive in Great Lakes
7/13/2012 - Officials say Asian carp DNA found in Lake Erie samples from last year; significance unclear
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
3/19/2007 - Canada to clean up polluted spots on Great Lakes
3/13/2007 - Changing Face of Lake Erie
2/5/2007 - Data shows warming eventually will shrink Great Lakes
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
2/2/2006 - Warm weather makes lake ideal spot for birders
12/21/2005 - Watershed Council hails recent Great Lakes initiatives; question funding commitment
12/14/2005 - 2 pacts prohibit diversion of Great Lakes water
4/20/2005 - Invasive species in most Great Lakes ships
4/7/2005 - Disappearing Lakes, Shrinking Seas
1/24/2005 - Drain in Great Lakes is open, report says
1/18/2005 - Immediate action sought to protect Great Lakes from invaders
10/22/2004 - Parliamentary committee to study Great Lakes deal
9/17/2004 - Great Lakes Plagued By Pollution
8/27/2004 - Sea lamprey making return to Lake Erie
8/27/2004 - Hundreds Sickened at Ohio Resort Island
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
6/14/2004 - Local Anglers see changes from new fish
6/3/2004 - Exotic species threatening native Lake Erie fish
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
4/28/2004 - Polluted lakes turning turtles into turtlettes
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
4/8/2004 - Native cormorants? Not in Great Lakes
4/6/2004 - Lake Erie water levels should be same as last year
4/5/2004 - Catch Limit Set for Lake Erie Walleye and Yellow Perch 2004
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
2/5/2004 - New York state moves to block release of Asian carp
1/30/2004 - Wet Canary
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
12/15/2003 - Invasives altering Great Lakes food web
11/8/2003 - Study: dioxins may have wiped out Laurentian Great Lakes trout
9/23/2003 - U.S. agency ok's plan to save Lake Erie water snakes
9/9/2003 - Historic Battle of Lake Erie remembered
8/12/2003 - New York state taskforce to fight ecological invaders
7/10/2003 - Ohio EPA says dam hurts water quality
6/9/2003 - Commercial use of aquifers could strain Great Lakes
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
3/16/2003 - Michigan worried thirsty states may be eyeing Great Lakes
3/15/2003 - Fruit growers hope to benefit from ice cover on Lake Erie
2/27/2003 - New food chain threat musseling into Laurentian Great Lakes
2/11/2003 - Organism is disappearing from Great Lakes
2/1/2003 - Saving Canada's endangered mussels
1/6/2003 - Penn State researcher suggest tiny fish may bring big trouble
12/30/2002 - Threatened water snake gets hand in recovery
12/15/2002 - State takes bite out of lake shore builders
12/9/2002 - New report on urban nonpoint source pollution released for Great Lakes policymakers
10/22/2002 - Outbreaks of rare botulism strain in Lake Erie stymie scientists: round goby, zebra mussels, quagga mussels & warm temperatures are suspects
10/22/2002 - Outbreaks of a rare botulism along Lake Erie strain stymie scientists
10/21/2002 - Tests find drug taint in water
10/19/2002 - Alien species named lakes' top enemy
9/19/2002 - Invasive perch nearing Lake Winnebago
9/18/2002 - Fishhook water flea appears in Lake Erie
9/8/2002 - Low Erie oxygen may be from clam
7/21/2002 - Scientists recommend a fresh look at fresh water
7/12/2002 - Experts say big Asian carp threatens Great Lakes
6/18/2002 - Loss of oxygen in central Lake Erie confounding researchers
5/14/2002 - Genetically enhanced algae used to recover toxic heavy metals from Lake Erie
5/6/2002 - Mapping underground water supplies
4/7/2002 - Great Lakes Fishery Commission announces total allowable catch numbers for commercial fishing
11/29/2001 - Lake Erie sturgeon
11/4/2001 - Bird deaths blamed on botulism from invasive gobi fish
9/5/2001 - Changes in Lake Erie fish population suggest lake's recovery
3/27/2001 - One change in farming practice makes for cleaner waterways
8/4/2000 - Scientists try shock treatment for invaders (US, Canada)
11/9/1999 - Toxic mud fouls U.S. waters
5/11/1998 - Study shows zebra mussels can colonize sand and mud
2/17/1998 - In search of bad weather: scientists study lake-effect winter storms

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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