Limnologists*, who are lake, pond, river, and stream scientists and biologists, disagree on what constitutes a lake. Some limnologists define lakes as a water body covering 20 acres or more, over 12 acres, etc. Others define lakes as more than one acre, more than Even in the early 19th century, limnologists debated over what defines a lake or a pond.
What Country Has The Most Natural Lakes?
The winner is Canada! Limnologists differ about the amount of lakes and natural lakes existing in Canada. One limnological source cites two million with an estimated 31,752 lakes larger than 1.2 square miles (3 square kilometers). Another scientific source reports 879,000 Canadian lakes. The total number of Canadian lakes is unknown.
No surprise there. All limnological sources count the Great Lakes as Canadian Lakes. Over 80% of Canadian lands remain uninhabited by humans. Russia is similar with 80% uninhabited land and with their northern climates. The most populated areas of Canada are clustered around the Great Lakes and close to the U.S. border.
What Country Has the Most Lakes?
The ten countries with the most lakes in the world from the most to the least are:
- Canada: 879,800
- Russia: 201,200
- USA: 102,500
- China: 23,800
- Sweden: 22,600
- Brazil: 20,900
- Norway: 20,000
- Argentina: 13,600
- Kazakhstan: 12,400
- Australia: 11,400
What Is the Highest Natural Lake in the World?
The ten highest lakes in the world range in elevation from 20,965 feet (6,390 meters) to 19,192 feet (5,850 meters). Most of the world’s highest lakes are in stratovolcanoes or mountain ranges. Tall volcanoes shaped like a cone characterize stratovolcanoes. They can periodically spew eruptions, but their lava cools and hardens quicker than other volcanoes and does not spread lava as far.
The Nevado Ojos del Salado stratovolcano supports the highest natural lake in the world, lies in the Andes mountain range, and is 20,964-feet high (6390 meters). It straddles the central border of Chile and Argentina in the Nevado de Tres Cruces National Park.
The Nevado Ojos del Salado is the highest mountain in Chile and the second-highest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. This volcano yields large deposits of salt on its glaciers, which form saltwater pools on its slopes. Its close proximity to the Atacama Desert leaves its climate arid.
Hikers find the ascent to Nevado Ojos del Salada pretty easy until the last stretch of the trail, where they need equipment to reach the top of its summit. Jan Alfred Szczepanski and Justyn Wojsznis, mountaineers among other occupations, were the first to record a trek to the summit of Ojos Del Salado in 1937.
Nevado Ojos del Salado is Spanish and literally translates in English to “Snowy (nevado) Eyes (ojos) of Salt (salado)”. This highest lake in the world is only 328 feet (100 meters) in diameter and 328 feet deep (10 meters). Hikers can access this lake from Argentina and Chile. People describe it a bit underwhelming due to its small size. However, its trail proves an extremely popular hike.
The next four highest lakes in the world are Changste Pool in Tibet: 20,394 feet, (6,216 meters); Tres Cruces Norte Lake in Chile: 20,361 feet (6,206 meters); Pular Pool in Chile: 20,308 feet (6,190 meters); and East Rongbuk Pool in Tibet: 20,013 feet (6,100 meters).
When glaciers moved across the land, they dug out depressions in the earth, with many creating basins that collect water across the globe. Stratovolcanoes either form into a cone-shaped mountain with a crater at the summit or an inverse volcano that created a depression, called a caldera.
Alpine Lake Characteristics
Alpine lakes rest in high altitudes near or above the tree line on mountains. Glacial activity formed glacial lakes eons ago. Glacial flour (microscopic grains of sediment) gives glacially formed alpine lakes their vivid turquoise, green, and blue hues. Alpine lakes are typically smaller than lower altitudes lakes due to the mountainous terrain slopes, which do not have large basins.
Stratovolcano Lake Characteristics
Stratovolcanoes, aka composite volcanoes, form a mountainous cone. They periodically erupt with lava consisting of andesite and dacite, cooler lava that is more viscous than volcanoes that produce basalt lava. By definition, viscous means sticky, gluey, and syrupy. Basalt volcanoes spit out hot molten or semi-molten lava, which flows much further.
Volcanoes take approximately 10,000 to 500,000 years to form. Stratovolcanoes form by their lava piling up in layers of ash and pyroclastic flows after each eruption, which comprise dense masses of extremely hot ash, lava fragments, and gases. Or, they produce calderas.
As stratovolcanoes erupt over time, the layers from each eruption build the volcano into a cone. Some of them are domes upon domes. Nevado Ojos del Salado, Mt. Fuji in Japan, and Mt. Mayon in the Philippines are examples of stratovolcanoes that form a symmetrical cone, like Crater Lake in Oregon.
When a stratovolcano erupts that creates a caldera, the magma forcefully ejects from the magma chamber underneath the volcano. This activity forms a large depression in the earth, and the volcano collapses. When the magma chamber empties, it creates the depression or basin. The support the magma provided to the structure of the volcano causes the magma chamber to disappear.
The sides and the top of the volcano collapse, which forms an inverse volcano with rims surrounding a large depression in the earth. These depressions can collect water and create lakes with no inlets or outlets. The rims of the calderas are dangerous, and hikers avoid them.
Tips for Hiking Alpine and Volcanic Lakes
Do not hike alone in the wilderness. Know which dangerous wild animals live in the region you are hiking and what to do if you encounter one.
Especially if you are new to hiking on mountains, it is best to choose a day with good weather and not too hot or not too cold. Experienced hikers plan ahead for every emergency. Layer your hiking clothes according to the weather.
Choose the correct hiking shoes or boots and socks. Outdoor outfitters like REI will fit you for the right shoes/boots for the terrain you plan on hiking in. Today, many sock manufacturers produce socks made of the finest textiles. These socks vary in features depending on the material used.
Frequently, you will not have cell phone service. Take a paper map, a compass, water, food, waterproof fire starter kit, first aid kit, army or utility knife, flashlight and batteries, and hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. You need at least a liter of water per every two hours of hiking. High energy food, like jerky, nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars, are perfect for day hikes.
Take your fully charged cell phone, just in case, and bring a camera if your cell phone takes low quality pictures or you want more features than a cell phone camera provides. Binoculars are a plus for viewing vistas.
Study basic first aid. Someone in your group should know the basics of first aid and CPR. You can buy prepackaged first aid kits. REI sells 20 prepackaged first aid kits online as of this writing. Their kits range from $8.95 to $229.95 in 2023.
A Basic Mountaineering First Aid Kit Includes**:
- Bandages: Assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.
- 4-inch closure strips or butterfly closures: For closing large wounds. 4-inch strips are more effective than butterfly.
- 4 inch by 4 inch sterile dressing pads (5 to 10): To apply pressure to a wound and stop bleeding.
- Non-adherent sterile dressing (2 inch by 2 inch): Use these or Second Skin to cover blisters, burns, or lacerations.
- Gauze roll: Holds dressing in place.
- Small roll of 1-inch adhesive tape: Holds dressings in place.
- Multi-use tool or knife: Should include knife, scissors. A scalpel and blade are also useful for first aid.
- Forceps or tweezers: For removing splinters, ticks, and removing debris from wounds.
- Scissors: Trauma scissors, which have a blunt end to protect the patient, can be used for cutting away clothing from injury, cutting medical tape, etc.
- Thermometer: Digital is generally more accurate, but batteries do wear out.
- Malleable splint: Lightweight foam-covered aluminum, such as a SAM splint.
- Irrigation syringe (35 cc): Used to flush and clean wounds.
- Suction syringe (65 cc): Used to clear mouth of fluids when giving CPR.
- Safety pins: Can help remove splinters, fasten arm slings, or make a hole in a plastic bag for improvised wound irrigation.
- Cotton-tip swabs: For removing foreign objects from eye, or applying antibiotic ointment.
- Resealable plastic bags: Many uses, including icing a swollen joint or creating wound irrigation device.
- ACE, Coban, or other rubberized bandage: Can be used as outer wrap on splints, wound dressings or support for joint injuries. Be careful not to wrap too tightly.
- Antiseptic towelettes: For cleaning small wounds.
- Cleansing pads with lidocaine: For cleaning. Includes a topical anesthetic for abrasions, stings, etc.
- Topical antibiotic ointment: For application to wounds. Vaseline can also be used in dressing a wound.
- Moleskin: Prevents blisters. Cut and apply a section to your foot as soon as you discover a “hot spot.” Duct tape also works for this purpose.
- Povidone Iodine USP 10 percent, 1 oz.: For preventing infection. Bottled PVD iodine 10% solution should be diluted to a ratio of 1 percent or less for flushing wounds.
- Aloe vera gel: Found in packets or small bottles for relief of minor burns.
- Pain relievers, including aspirin and Ibuprofen: Provides relief for minor aches and pains, reduces fever, helps reduce inflammation of sprains and other injuries.
- Antihistamines: For relief of pollen allergies, or to reduce reaction to bites and stings.
- Immodium 2 mg capsules or tablets: For relief of diarrhea from intestinal infections.
- Pepto Bismol or antiacid tablets: For relief from general diarrhea, abdominal upset.
- After Bite or hydrocortisone cream USP 1%: Relieves skin irritation from bites, poison oak, stings, or allergic reactions.
- Latex or nitrile gloves: Protects against blood-borne diseases and infection.
- CPR microshield mask: A compact flexible barrier with a one-way valve for rescue breathing, which protects user from blood, vomit or saliva.
- Oral rehydration salts: Packet of electrolyte salts and glucose for treatment of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea.
- Space bag/blanket: Lightweight emergency shelter, for treating hypothermia victims.
- Paper and pencil: For recording medical data such as body temperature, pulse, time and date of symptoms, injuries, medicines administered, etc. Most repackaged kits include accident report forms.
- Many prepackaged first aid kits include wilderness first aid booklets, or you can buy one separately if you assemble your own kit.
* From French limnologie, from Greek límnē “standing water, pool, marshy lake.
** Courtesy of the Washington Trails Association.