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Lake retention time (also called the residence time of lake water, or the water age or flushing time) is a calculated quantity expressing the mean time that water (or some dissolved substance) spends in a particular lake. At its simplest this figure is the result of dividing the lake volume by the flow in or out of the lake. It roughly expresses the amount of time taken for a substance introduced into a lake to flow out of it again. The retention time is especially important where pollutants are concerned.


Global retention time

The global retention time for a lake (the overall mean time that water spends in the lake) is calculated by dividing the lake volume by either the mean rate of inflow of all tributaries, or by the mean rate of outflow (ideally including evaporation and seepage). This metric assumes that water in the lake is well-mixed (rather than stratified), so that any portion of the lake water is much like any other. In reality, larger and deeper lakes are generally not well-mixed. Many large lakes can be divided into distinct portions with only limited flow between them. Deep lakes are generally stratified, with deeper water mixing infrequently with surface water. These are often better modeled as several distinct sub-volumes of water.[1]

More specific residence times

It is possible to calculate more specific residence time figures for a particular lake, such as individual residence times for sub-volumes (e.g. particular arms), or a residence time distribution for the various layers of a stratified lake. These figures can often better express the hydrodynamics of the lake. However, any such approach remains a simplification and must be guided by an understanding of the processes operating in the lake.

Two approaches can be used (often in combination) to elucidate how a particular lake works: field measurements and mathematical modeling. One common technique for field measurement is to introduce a tracer into the lake and monitor its movement. This can be a solid tracer, such as a float constructed to be neutrally buoyant within a particular water layer, or sometimes a liquid. This approach is sometimes referred to as using a Lagrangian reference frame. Another field measurement approach, using an Eulerian reference frame, is to capture various properties of the lake water (including mass movement, water temperature, electrical conductivity and levels of dissolved substances, typically oxygen) at various fixed positions in the lake. From these can be constructed an understanding of the dominant processes operating in the various parts of the lake and their range and duration.[1]

Field measurements alone are usually not a reliable basis for generating residence times, mainly because they necessarily represent a small subset of locations and conditions. Therefore the measurements are generally used as the input for numerical models. In theory it would be possible to integrate a system of hydrodynamic equations with variable boundary conditions over a very long period sufficient for inflowing water particles to exit the lake. One could then calculate the traveling times of the particles using a Lagrangian method. However, this approach exceeds the detail available in current hydrodynamic models and the capacity of current computer resources. Instead, residence time models developed for gas and fluid dynamics, chemical engineering, and bio-hydrodynamics can be adapted to generate residence times for sub-volumes of lakes.[1]

List of residence times of lake water

The residence time listed is taken from the infobox in the associated article.

Lake Location Basin countries Residence time
Klingnauer Stausee Aargau Switzerland 000000.0000.13 days
Lake Hévíz Hévíz Hungary 000000.00328 hours
Stausee Ferden Ferden, Valais Switzerland 000000.00436 hours
Lake Wohlen / Wohlensee Canton of Berne Switzerland 000000.0062.1 days
Lake St. Clair Great Lakes Canada, United States 000000.0197 days (2-30 days)
Lake Arapuni North Island New Zealand 000000.0191 week
Milton Pond Strafford County, New Hampshire; York County, Maine United States 000000.03011.1 days
Gibson Lake Gibson Generating Station, Montgomery Township, Indiana United States 000000.0382 weeks
Råcksta Träsk Sweden 000000.0482-3 weeks
Lake Sagami Kanagawa Japan 000000.0500.05 year
Lake Cristallina Ticino Switzerland 000000.0582-4 weeks
Northeast Pond Strafford County, New Hampshire; York County, Maine United States 000000.06523.7 days
Brandy Pond Naples, Maine United States 000000.09334 days
Champagne Pool Waiotapu, North Island New Zealand 000000.09334 days
Prospect reservoir Prospect, New South Wales Australia 000000.09730-40 days
Sicklasjön Sweden 000000.1000.1 year
Devils Lake Lincoln County, Oregon United States 000000.1500.15 years
Lough Derg Ireland 000000.1500.15 years
Derwent Water Lake District United Kingdom 000000.15155 days
Lake Biel / Bielersee / Lac de Bienne Canton of Berne Switzerland 000000.15958 days
Veluwemeer Netherlands 000000.1672 months
Hacksjön Sweden 000000.2000.2 years
Kamloops Lake British Columbia Canada 000000.200ca. 0.2 years (20-340 days)
Malham Tarn Yorkshire Dales, England United Kingdom 000000.21211 weeks
Lac d'Anterne Passy, Haute-Savoie France 000000.24790 days
Graham Lake Hancock County, Maine United States 000000.2503 months
Grand Lac de Clairvaux Jura department, Franche-Comté France 000000.2503 months
Laduviken Sweden 000000.2503 months
Esthwaite Water Lake District, Cumbria United Kingdom 000000.2600.26 years
Trehörningen Huddinge, Southern Stockholm County Sweden 000000.2700.27 years
Lac de Divonne Divonne-les-Bains, Ain France 000000.274100 days
Lake Lesina / Lago di Lesina Province of Foggia, Puglia Italy 000000.274100 days
Seeweidsee Canton of Zurich Switzerland 000000.274100 days
Hüttnersee Hütten, Canton of Zurich Switzerland 000000.329120 days
Lake Lauerz / Lauerzersee Canton of Schwyz Switzerland 000000.3380.3378 years
Morris Lake Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia Canada 000000.3454.1 months
Sobradinho Brazil 000000.3500.35 years
Stump Pond /Balch Pond Carroll County, New Hampshire; York County, Maine United States 000000.373136 days
Magelungen Sweden 000000.3754-5 months
Russell Lake Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia Canada 000000.3834.6 months
Loweswater Lake District, Cumbria United Kingdom 000000.411150 days
Lappkärret Sweden 000000.4175 months
Lough Feeagh County Mayo Ireland 000000.4700.47 year
Egelsee Bubikon, Canton of Zurich Switzerland 000000.493180 days
Lac de Vouglans France 000000.493180 days
Mettmenhaslisee Canton of Zurich Switzerland 000000.493180 days
Albysjön Sweden 000000.5000.5 year
Chesuncook Lake Piscataquis County, Maine United States 000000.5006 months
Clinton Lake DeWitt County, Illinois United States 000000.5006 months
Flagstaff Lake Somerset County and Franklin County, Maine United States 000000.5006 months
Lake Coeur d'Alene Northern Idaho United States 000000.5000.5 years
Lac de Saint-Point Doubs department, Franche-Comté France 000000.548200 days
Kyrksjön Sweden 000000.5837 months
Newnan's Lake Gainesville, Florida United States 000000.6000.6 years
Staples Pond Temple, Maine United States 000000.6838.2 months
Lac Cornu Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Haute-Savoie France 000000.685250 days
Lac du Brévent Chamonix, Haute-Savoie France 000000.685250 days
Lake Silvaplana / Silvaplanersee / Lej da Silvaplauna Engadin, Grisons Switzerland 000000.685250 days
Loch Awe Argyll and Bute, Scotland United Kingdom 000000.7000.7 year
Långsjön Sweden 000000.7929-10 months
Lake Sarnen / Sarnersee Obwalden Switzerland 000000.8000.8 years
Lake Lovozero Kola Peninsula, Murmansk Oblast Russia 000000.83310 months
Drevviken Sweden 000000.87510-11 months
Mörtsjön Sweden 000000.900< 1 year
Judarn Bromma, Stockholm Sweden 000000.91711 months
Coniston Water Lake District, Cumbria United Kingdom 000000.932340 days
Ullswater Lake District, England United Kingdom 000000.959350 days
Khanka Lake Heilongjiang Province,China and Primorsky Krai, Russia China, Russia 0000001.0001 year
Lake Monona Dane County, Wisconsin United States 0000001.1001.1 years
Long Lake Maine United States 0000001.1001.1 years
Mooselookmeguntic Lake Franklin County, Maine United States 0000001.1001.1 years
Greifensee Canton of Zurich Switzerland 0000001.118408 days
Nainital Lake Uttarakhand India 0000001.1601.16 years
Manasbal Lake Kashmir Valley India 0000001.2001.2 years
Lake Zurich / Zürichsee Switzerland 0000001.205440 days
Tegernsee Bavaria Germany 0000001.2801.28 years
Deer Creek Reservoir Utah United States 0000001.3001.3 year
Orlången Sweden 0000001.3301.33 years
Haweswater Reservoir Lake District, Cumbria United Kingdom 0000001.370500 days
Loch Shiel Lochaber, Highland, Scotland United Kingdom 0000001.3701.37 year
Lake Walen /Walensee / Lake Walenstadt St. Gallen, Glarus Switzerland 0000001.4261.4258 years
Keoka Lake Maine United States 0000001.5001.5 years
Lake Murten /Lac de Morat /Murtensee Canton of Fribourg/Vaud Switzerland 0000001.6001.6 years
Oeschinen Lake Bernese Oberland Switzerland 0000001.6101.61 years
Lac de Lessy Haute-Savoie France 0000001.644600 days
East Grand Lake Maine / New Brunswick Canada, United States 0000001.7001.7 years
Lake Ikeda Kyūshū island Japan 0000001.7001.7 years
Faaker See Carinthia Austria 0000001.8001.8 years
Ossiacher See / Lake Ossiach Carinthia Austria 0000001.8001.8 years
Varese Lake/Lago di Varese Province of Varese, Lombardy Italy 0000001.8001.8 years
Long Lost Lake Clearwater County, Minnesota United States 0000001.8001.8 years
Ältasjön Sweden 0000001.8001.8 years
Lake Thun / Thunersee Canton of Berne Switzerland 0000001.874684 days
Green Lake Maine United States 0000001.9001.9 years
Gömmaren Sweden 0000001.9001.9 yrs
Loch Lomond Dunbartonshire, Central Scotland Scotland, United Kingdom 0000001.9001.9 years
Lake Balaton Hungary Hungary 0000002.0002 years
Lake Rotoroa Hamilton, Waikato, North Island New Zealand 0000002.000approx. 2 years
Lake Tutira Hawke's Bay, North Island New Zealand 0000002.0002 years
Türlersee Canton of Zurich Switzerland 0000002.000730 days
Pfäffikersee Canton of Zurich Switzerland 0000002.0852.085 years
Caniapiscau Reservoir Quebec Canada 0000002.2002.2 years
Lake Sils / Silsersee /Lej da Segl Engadin, Grisons Switzerland 0000002.2002.2 years
Wilersee Canton of Zug Switzerland 0000002.2002.2 years
Great Pond Maine United States 0000002.3002.3 years
Moberly Lake British Columbia Canada 0000002.4002.4 years
Päijänne Finland 0000002.5002.5 years
Lake Erie North America Canada, United States 0000002.6002.6 years
Rangeley Lake Franklin County, Maine United States 0000002.6002.6 years
Lake Brienz / Brienzersee Canton of Berne Switzerland 0000002.6902.69 years
Ammersee / Lake Ammer Upper Bavaria Germany 0000002.7002.7 years
Großer Plöner See Schleswig-Holstein Germany 0000003.0003 years
Paudash Lake Haliburton County, Ontario Canada 0000003.0003 years
Moosehead Lake Maine United States 0000003.1003.1 years
Trekanten Sweden 0000003.1003.1 years
Great East Lake Carroll County, New Hampshire; York County, Maine United States 0000003.3003.3 years
Lake Champlain North America Canada, United States 0000003.3003.3 years
Flathead Lake Montana United States 0000003.4003.4 years
Lake Lucerne /Vierwaldstättersee Central Switzerland Switzerland 0000003.4003.4 years
Lake Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada Canada, United States 0000003.5003.5 years
Lac de Paladru Isère France 0000003.6003.6 years
Lake Hallwil / Hallwilersee Aargau Switzerland 0000003.9003.9 years
Flaten southern Stockholm Sweden 0000004.0004 years
Lake Annecy / Lac d'Annecy Haute-Savoie France 0000004.0004 years
Lake Maggiore / Verbano / Lago Maggiore Lombardy and Piedmont, Italy; Canton Ticino, Switzerland Italy, Switzerland 0000004.0004 years
Todos los Santos Lake Chile 0000004.0004 years
Lake Baldegg / Baldeggersee Canton of Lucerne Switzerland 0000004.2004.2 years
Lake Iseo / Lago d'Iseo Lombardy Italy 0000004.2004.2 years
Lake Constance / Bodensee Germany, Switzerland, Austria Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein 0000004.3004.3 years
Corey Lake Michigan United States 0000004.4004.4 years
Elk and Beaver Lakes Saanich, British Columbia Canada 0000004.4004.4 years (Elk Lake),
Lake Como Lombardy, Italy Italy 0000004.5004.5 years
Lake Mendota Wisconsin United States 0000004.5004.5 years
Sea of Galilee Israel 0000005.0005 years
Bannwaldsee Allgäu, Bavaria Germany 0000005.2005.2 years
Sebago Lake Cumberland County, Maine United States 0000005.2505.1 to 5.4 yrs
Kennisis Lake Haliburton Highlands, Ontario Canada 0000005.2605.26 years
Bay Lake Crow Wing County, Minnesota United States 0000005.5004-7 years
Lake Biwa / 琵琶湖 Japan 0000005.5005.5 years
Jordan Pond Hancock County, Maine United States 0000006.0006 years
Lago di Mergozzo Piedmont Italy 0000006.0006 years
Lake Ontario North America Canada, United States 0000006.0006 years
Lac la Nonne Alberta Canada 0000006.5006.5 years
Lago di Candia Province of Turin Italy 0000006.5006 or 7 years
Ägerisee Canton of Zug Switzerland 0000006.8006.8 years
Loch Morar Morar, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland United Kingdom 0000006.8706.87 years
Lake Powell Utah/Arizona United States 0000007.2007.2 years
Millstätter See / Lake Millstatt Carinthia Austria 0000007.5007.5 years
Moose Lake Alberta Canada 0000007.5007.5 years
Schaalsee Schleswig-Holstein Germany 0000007.5005 to 10 years
Iliamna Lake Lake and Peninsula Borough, Alaska United States 0000007.8007.8 years
Lac du Bourget Savoie, France France 0000008.0008 years
Odell Lake Klamath County, Oregon United States 0000008.0008 years
Lake Lugano /Lago di Lugano Ticino, Lombardy Switzerland, Italy 0000008.2008.2 years
Lake Neuchâtel / Lac de Neuchâtel / Neuenburgersee Switzerland 0000008.2008.2 years
Lake Orta /Lago d’Orta /Cusio Piedmont Italy 0000008.9008.9 years
Weissensee Carinthia Austria 0000009.2009.2 years
Quesnel Lake British Columbia Canada 0000010.10010.1 years
Schweriner See Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany 0000010.10010.1 years
Lake Taupo Taupo District, Waikato Region, North Island New Zealand 0000010.50010.5 years
Wörthersee / Lake Wörth west of Klagenfurt Austria 0000010.50010.5 years
Lake Chelan Washington United States 0000010.60010.6 years
Lake Geneva Switzerland, France Switzerland, France 0000011.40011.4 years
Lake Wakatipu Queenstown-Lakes District, Otago Region, South Island New Zealand 0000012.000c. 12 years
Higgins Lake Michigan United States 0000012.50012.5 years
Crescent Lake Klamath County, Oregon United States 0000013.00013 years
Lake Zug / Zugersee Switzerland 0000014.70014.7 years
Müritz Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany 0000015.00015 years (?)
Western Brook Pond Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada 0000015.40015.4 years
Lake Sempach / Sempachersee Canton of Lucerne Switzerland 0000016.90016.9 years
Skaneateles Lake New York United States 0000018.00018 years
Cayuga Lake New York United States 0000018.20018.2 years
Bear Lake Idaho/Utah United States 0000019.60019.6 years
Green Lake Green Lake County, Wisconsin United States 0000021.00021 years
Lake Starnberg /Starnberger See Bavaria Germany 0000021.00021 years
Lake Huron North America Canada, United States 0000022.00022 years
Lake Garda / Lago di Garda Northern Italy Italy 0000026.80026.8 years
Waldo Lake Cascade Mountains, OregonPortland, Oregon United States 0000032.00032 years
Crystal Lake Benzie County, Michigan United States 0000045.00030 to 60 years
Lake Columbia Jackson County, Michigan United States 0000047.00047 years
Okanagan Lake British Columbia Canada 0000052.80052.8 years
Lake Ohrid the Republic of Macedonia,
0000070.00070 years
Lake Michigan United States United States 0000099.00099 years
Arendsee Saxony-Anhalt Germany 0000100.000100 years
Gull Lake Alberta Canada 0000101.000>100 years
Lake Yosemite California United States 0000121.000121 years
Great Bear Lake Northwest Territories Canada 0000124.000124 years
Crater Lake Oregon United States 0000157.000157 years
Lake Superior North America Canada, United States 0000191.000191 years
Caspian Sea Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia. Turkmenistan 0000250.000250 years
Lake Baikal Russia 0000350.000350 years
Lake Tahoe California, Nevada United States 0000650.000650 years
Lake Titicaca Peru
0001343.0001343 years
Lakes Qaban Russia 0002000.000several thousand years
Lake Poyang China 0005000.0005000 years
Lake Vostok (Antarctica) 1000000.0001,000,000 yrs


  1. ^ a b c Duwe, Kurt (2003-01-03). "D24: Realistic Residence Times Studies". EUROLAKES. Retrieved 2007-12-11.  

See also

External links



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