Saturday, December 10, 2005

Lake Baikal and Lake Superior - a conversation

We got to talking about the size of Lake Baikal, and comparing it to the Great Lakes. Of course, we engaged in some small talk about this one/that one, but it got me curious as to which was bigger/deeper, etc. So, I went to Wikipedia and got this (thanks wikipedia!). Oh, and btw, I think, but I'm not at all sure - that the spelling "Gichigami" below is pronounced something closer to gichigoomee (oo=long u sound, ee=long e sound). That's what I remember from when I was a kid.

Lake Superior (known as Gichigami in a Ojibwe language) is the largest of North America's Great Lakes. It is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area with Lake Baikal in Siberia having more volume. (The Caspian Sea is larger, but contains salt water.) Lake Superior has a surface area of 32,000 sq. mi. (82,000 km²) , larger than the Czech Republic. It has a maximum length of 350 mi (563 km) and maximum width of 160 mi (257 km). Its average depth is 489 ft (149 m) with a maximum depth of 1,333 ft (406 m). Lake Superior contains 2,935 cubic mi (12,232 cubic km) of water. The shoreline of the lake stretches 2,730 miles (4393 km) (including islands).

Lake Baikal (Russian: О́зеро Байка́л (Ozero Baykal)), a lake in Southern Siberia, Russia, between Irkutsk Oblast on the northwest and Buryatia on the southeast, near Irkutsk. It is a World Heritage Site. The name derives from Tatar "Bai-Kul" - "rich lake". It is also known as the Blue Eye of Siberia.
At 636 km/395 miles long and 80 km/50 miles wide, Baikal has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in Asia (31,494 km²/12,165 miles²) and is the deepest lake in the world (1637m/5369 ft—previously measured to 1620m/5314 ft). Therefore, in Russian tradition Baikal is called the "sea", and in the Buryat and Mongol languages it is called Dalai-Nor, or "Sacred Sea".
The bottom of the lake is 1285 m/4215 ft below sea level and is the deepest continental rift on the earth. Its volume—23,000 km³/5521 miles³—is approximately equal to the total volume of the 5 Great Lakes of North America, or to about 20% of the total fresh water on the earth.
Baikal is a young rift lake. The rift widens about 2 centimeters/1 inch a year. The fault zone is seismically active: there are hot springs in the area and notable earthquakes every few years.
The extent of biodiversity present in Lake Baikal is equalled by few other lakes. As many as 852 species and 233 varieties of algae and 1550 species and varieties of animals inhabit the lake; many of them are endemic species. The world-famous Baikal Seal (Phoca sibirica), the only mammal living in the lake, is found throughout the whole area of the lake.


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