Encyclopedia of Lakes and Reservoirs

2012 Edition
| Editors: Lars Bengtsson, Reginald W. Herschy, Rhodes W. Fairbridge

Water Balance of the Laurentian Great Lakes

  • Vincent Fortin
  • Andrew D. Gronewold
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4410-6_268


Surface water elevation dynamics of the Laurentian Great Lakes exhibit long-term persistence on decadal time scales, and the changes in surface water elevation over these time scales are driven mainly by climate dynamics. Understanding Great Lakes water elevation dynamics on shorter time scales (such as monthly and annual scales) is commonly based on a cumulative assessment of the individual components of the net supply of water (i.e., precipitation, evaporation, and runoff) within the Great Lakes basin.

Great lakes water levels

The surface water elevations (hereafter referred to as “water levels”) of the Great Lakes are closely monitored by both the United States (through NOAA’s National Ocean Service) and Canada (through the Canadian Hydrographic Service). Monthly mean lake-wide levels, obtained by averaging a subset of US and Canadian gauges from around the lakes, can be obtained from the US Army Corps of Engineers:


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Meteorological Research DivisionEnvironment CanadaDorval (Québec)Canada
  2. 2.Great Lakes Environmental Research LaboratoryNOAAAnn ArborUSA