Physical Characteristics of the Great Lakes

View the Data: PhysCharGL.xls

There is one spreadsheet in this data set.

General Questions:

  • Does elevation have anything to do with the direction of water flow?
  • Which lake has the highest elevation?
  • Which lake has the lowest elevation?
  • Is there a relationship between retention time and volume?
  • Which lake has the longest retention time? The shortest retention time?
  • Which lake has the highest volume? The lowest volume?
  • Which lake has the most shoreline?
  • Which lake has the most water or surface area?

Note: For a question to be testable, the locality, time and variables must be specific.

This simple data set is a good starting point for exploring other more complex data sets. The data could be used in an elementary classroom for basic graphing or as a tool to engage learning. Comparisons can be made between lakes, such as comparing lake depth and elevation. Students can look for relationships using other clues within the data.

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Great Lakes System Profile graphic, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant, The Great Lakes Basin, map/poster.

Data source: NOAA-Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Coastwatch.

Learn more, see: About the Great Lakes