List of lakes by volume

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This article lists lakes with a water volume of more than 100 km3, ranked by volume. The volume of a lake is a difficult quantity to measure.[1] Generally, the volume must be inferred from bathymetric data by integration. Lake volumes can also change dramatically over time and during the year, especially for salt lakes in arid climates. For these reasons, and because of changing research, information on lake volumes can vary considerably from source to source. The base data for this article are from The Water Encyclopedia (1990).[2] Where volume data from more recent surveys or other authoritative sources have been used, that usage is referenced in the respective entry. The total volume of Earth's lakes is 199,000 km3.[1]

The list[edit]

The volumes of the lakes below vary little by season. This list does not include reservoirs; if it did, six reservoirs would appear on the list: Lake Kariba at 26th, Bratsk Reservoir, Lake Volta, Lake Nasser, Manicouagan Reservoir, and Lake Guri.

Estuaries and lagoons are not included either. Examples: Lake Melville (estuary) and Lake Maracaibo (lagoon), comparable with Lagoa dos Patos.

Continent color key
Africa Asia Europe North America Oceania South America Antarctica
Name Country Region Surface area Water volume Salinity
Caspian Sea[3]

 Kazakhstan,  Turkmenistan,  Azerbaijan,  Russia,  Iran

Caspian Endorheic basin 371,000 km2 (143,000 sq mi) 78,200 km3 (18,800 cu mi) 1.2%


Southern Siberia 31,722 km2 (12,248 sq mi) 23,600 km3 (5,700 cu mi) Fresh

 Tanzania,  Democratic Republic of the Congo,  Burundi,  Zambia

African Great Lakes 32,900 km2 (12,700 sq mi) 18,900 km3 (4,500 cu mi) Fresh

 Canada,  United States

North American Great Lakes 82,100 km2 (31,700 sq mi) 11,600 km3 (2,800 cu mi) Fresh

 Malawi,  Mozambique,  Tanzania

African Great Lakes 29,600 km2 (11,400 sq mi) 7,725 km3 (1,853 cu mi) Fresh


Under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet 15,690 km2 (6,060 sq mi) 5,400±1,600 km³ (~1,300 cu mi) Fresh
Michigan[n 1]

 United States

North American Great Lakes 58,000 km2 (22,000 sq mi) 4,920 km3 (1,180 cu mi) Fresh
Huron[n 1]

 Canada,  United States

North American Great Lakes 59,600 km2 (23,000 sq mi) 3,540 km3 (850 cu mi) Fresh

 Tanzania,  Uganda,  Kenya

African Great Lakes 68,800 km2 (26,600 sq mi) 2,700 km3 (650 cu mi) Fresh
Great Bear[10]


Northwest Territories 31,153 km2 (12,028 sq mi) 2,236 km3 (536 cu mi) Fresh


Tien Shan Mountains 6,236 km2 (2,408 sq mi) 1,730 km3 (420 cu mi) 0.6%

 Canada,  United States

North American Great Lakes 18,960 km2 (7,320 sq mi) 1,710 km3 (410 cu mi) Fresh
Great Slave[11]


Northwest Territories 27,200 km2 (10,500 sq mi) 1,580 km3 (380 cu mi) Fresh


St. Petersburg Oblast, Republic of Karelia 17,891 km2 (6,908 sq mi) 912 km3 (219 cu mi) Fresh



Puno Region (Peru) and La Paz Department (Bolivia) 8,372 km2 (3,232 sq mi) 896 km3 (215 cu mi) Fresh

General Carrera-Buenos Aires[12]



General Carrera Province (Chile) and Santa Cruz Province (Argentina)

1,764 km2 (681 sq mi)

705 km3 (169 cu mi) Fresh

 Democratic Republic of the Congo,  Rwanda

African Great Lakes 2,700 km2 (1,000 sq mi) 648 km3 (155 cu mi) Fresh


Armenian Highlands 3,755 km2 (1,450 sq mi) 642 km3 (154 cu mi) 2.3%

 Canada,  United States

North American Great Lakes 25,667 km2 (9,910 sq mi) 488 km3 (117 cu mi) Fresh


Nearby, Eastern Sayan Mountains 2,760 km2 (1,070 sq mi) 381 km3 (91 cu mi) Fresh



24,514 km2 (9,465 sq mi)

294 km3 (71 cu mi) Fresh


St. Petersburg Oblast, Republic of Karelia, Vologda Oblast 9,700 km2 (3,700 sq mi) 291 km3 (70 cu mi) Fresh


Ontario 4,848 km2 (1,872 sq mi) 266 km3 (64 cu mi) Fresh


Sumatra 1,130 km2 (440 sq mi) 244 km3 (59 cu mi) Fresh



Nunavut and


2,279 km2 (880 sq mi)

228 km3 (55 cu mi)



Santa Cruz Province 1,466 km2 (566 sq mi) 220 km3 (53 cu mi) Fresh



Saskatchewan and Alberta

7,850 km2 (3,030 sq mi)

204 km3 (49 cu mi) Fresh

 Kenya,  Ethiopia

African Great Lakes 6,405 km2 (2,473 sq mi) 193 km3 (46 cu mi) 0.24%



Llanquihue Province and Osorno Province

860 km2 (330 sq mi)

158 km3 (38 cu mi) Fresh


Västergötland, Dalsland, Värmland 5,650 km2 (2,180 sq mi) 153 km3 (37 cu mi) Fresh

 United States

California and Nevada 496 km2 (192 sq mi) 151 km3 (36 cu mi) Fresh



Quebec 2,164 km2 (836 sq mi) 150 km3 (36 cu mi) Fresh

 Uganda,  Democratic Republic of the Congo

African Great Lakes 5,300 km2 (2,000 sq mi) 133 km3 (32 cu mi) Fresh



Nunavut, (Baffin Island)

5,542 km2 (2,140 sq mi)

130 km3 (31 cu mi) Fresh


 Argentina,  Chile

Tierra del Fuego

645 km2 (249 sq mi)

125 km3 (30 cu mi) Fresh



Santa Cruz Province

1,193 km2 (461 sq mi)

119 km3 (29 cu mi) Fresh

 United States

Alaska 2,622 km2 (1,012 sq mi) 115 km3 (28 cu mi) Fresh

Dead Sea

 Jordan,  Palestine,  Israel

Southern District, West Bank, Balqa Governorate, Madaba Governorate and Karak Governorate

605 km2 (234 sq mi)

114 km3 (27 cu mi) (decreasing)

34% (increasing)




1,887 km2 (729 sq mi)

113 km3 (27 cu mi)




Saskatchewan and Manitoba

6,650 km2 (2,570 sq mi)

113 km3 (27 cu mi) Fresh


Rivas Department, Granada Department and Río San Juan Department 8,264 km2 (3,191 sq mi) 110 km3 (26 cu mi) Fresh



Qinghai Province

4,583 km2 (1,770 sq mi)

108 km3 (26 cu mi) 1.4% (variable)



Karaganda Region, Jambyl Region and Almaty Region

16,400 km2 (6,300 sq mi)

100 km3 (24 cu mi) (decreasing) 0.3% (variable)

In 1960, the Aral Sea was the world's twelfth-largest known lake by volume, at 1,100 km3 (260 cu mi). However, by 2007 it had shrunk to 10% of its original volume and was divided into three lakes, none of which are large enough to appear on this list.[17]

By continent[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Although Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are usually considered distinct, they are sometimes regarded as a single lake known as Lake Michigan–Huron. When treated as a single entity, it is the fourth largest freshwater lake by volume, at 8,443 km3 (2,026 cu mi).[5][6][7][8][9]
  1. ^ a b Cael, B. B.; Heathcote, A. J.; Seekell, D. A. (2017). "The volume and mean depth of Earth's lakes". Geophysical Research Letters. 44 (1): 209–218. Bibcode:2017GeoRL..44..209C. doi:10.1002/2016GL071378. hdl:1912/8822. ISSN 1944-8007.
  2. ^ van der Leeden; Troise; Todd (1990), The Water Encyclopedia (2nd ed.), Chelsea, MI: Lewis Publishers, p. 198–200, ISBN 9780873711203
  3. ^ The Caspian Sea is generally regarded by geographers, biologists and limnologists as a huge inland salt lake. It is endorheic (having no outlet), and can be compared to other large (but still much smaller) endorheic salt lakes, such as the Aral Sea, Great Salt Lake and Lake Van. However, the Caspian's large size means that for some purposes it is better modeled as a sea. Geologically, the Caspian, Black, and Mediterranean seas are remnants of the ancient Tethys Ocean. Politically, the distinction between a sea and a lake may affect how the Caspian is treated by international law.
  4. ^ Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and the largest freshwater lake by volume.
  5. ^ Which Lake is the World's Largest?
  6. ^ "Lakes Michigan and Huron are considered to be one lake hydraulically because of their connection through the deep Straits of Mackinac." Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Great Lakes Sensitivity to Climatic Forcing: Hydrological Models." NOAA, 2006.
  7. ^ "Lakes Michigan and Huron are considered to be one lake, as they rise and fall together due to their union at the Straits of Mackinac." U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, "Hydrological Components" Record Low Water Levels Expected on Lake Superior. August 2007. p.6
  8. ^ "Great Lakes Map". Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Largest Lake in the World". Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  10. ^ Hebert, Paul (2007), "Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories", Encyclopedia of Earth, Washington, DC: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment, retrieved 2007-12-07
  11. ^ "Search – The Encyclopedia of Earth".
  12. ^ Murdie, Ruth E.; Pugh, David T.; Styles, Peter; Muñoz, Miguel (1999), "Heatflow, Temperature and Bathymetry of Lago General Carrera and Lago Cochrane, Southern Chile" (PDF), Extended Extracts of the Fourth International Symposium on Andean Geodynamics, Gottingen, Germany 04-06/10/1999, Paris: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, pp. 539–542
  13. ^ Degens, E.T.; Wong, H.K.; Kempe, S.; Kurtman, F. (June 1984), "A geological study of Lake Van, eastern Turkey", International Journal of Earth Sciences, Springer, 73 (2): 701-734, Bibcode:1984GeoRu..73..701D, doi:10.1007/BF01824978, S2CID 128628465
  14. ^ "Lake Nipigon". World Lake Database. International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  15. ^ Although some parts of Indonesia are often regarded as belonging to Oceania, Sumatra and Lake Toba are generally placed in Asia.
  16. ^ a b c d Walter K. Dodds; Matt R. Whiles (23 September 2010). Freshwater Ecology: Concepts and Environmental Applications of Limnology. Academic Press. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-0-12-374724-2. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  17. ^ Philip Micklin; Nikolay V. Aladin (March 2008). "Reclaiming the Aral Sea". Scientific American. Retrieved 2008-05-17.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)