A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land, and distinct 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 do form part of the Earth's water cycle. Lakes are distinct from lagoons, which are generally coastal parts of the ocean. Lakes are typically 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 usually flow 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. Some parts of the world have many lakes formed by the chaotic drainage patterns left over from the last ice age. All lakes are temporary over long periods of time, 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, for aesthetic or recreational purposes, or for other activities. (Full article...)
The states filed suit in 1990 in their conflict over the water supply; federal courts has affirmed the Corps' authority to negotiate the conflict. As the Lake Lanier project was authorized by Congress, each of the three states is entitled to an equal portion of the water; the project was never envisioned only to benefit metropolitan Atlanta, the closest large city and one that has developed rapidly since the late 20th century, greatly increasing its water consumption. The water flows are also regulated to support a variety of uses by states downriver, including preservation of marine life under the Endangered Species Act, and support for major seafood industries. (Full article...)
Image 4Lakes can have significant cultural importance. The West Lake of Hangzhou has inspired romantic poets throughout the ages, and has been an important influence on garden designs in China, Japan and Korea. (from Lake)
Image 14The Nowitna River in Alaska. Two oxbow lakes – a short one at the bottom of the picture and a longer, more curved one at the middle-right. (from Lake)
Image 15A view of the southern polar plain of Mars. The area where a subglacial lake has been detected is highlighted. Image credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center, Arizona State University (from Subglacial lake)
Image 16The Caspian Sea is either the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea (from Lake)