Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Hydrology and Lakes

Part of the series Encyclopedia of Earth Science pp 454-455

Lake Balaton, Hungary

  • Ö. Starosolszky

This large lake (‘Plattensee’ in German) in Western Hungary, has an area of 596 km2, a length of 70 km and an average depth of 3.30 m. It was created by the interaction of several forces of nature. Its basin was formed by wind, alluvial deposits and volcanic activity after the basin developed in a tectonic rift.

The average annual precipitation on Lake Balaton and the surrounding area is 600–700 mm. In the driest year there was 450 mm and in the wettest one, 1100 mm. The shallow water follows rapidly the changes in air temperature. Thus Lake Balaton is pleasantly warm during the summer and freezes early in the winter. Owing to high water temperatures during the summer and frequent winds, there is substantial evaporation, amounting to an annual rate of 870–920 mm.

From the surrounding catchment of 5174 km2 area a number of streams discharge into the lake (the most important is the Zala River with a mean discharge of 6.9 m3 s−1). Precipitation on the lake surface and inflow from the trib ...

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