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The Great Lakes:
 An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book


Jointly produced by:

Government of Canada
Toronto, Ontario
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Great Lakes National Program Office
Chicago, Illinois

Third Edition 1995

Please Note: The maps and photographs used in this on-line version of The Great Lakes Atlas are, due to file size limits, of lower quality than the original images. Should you desire better quality images, you may obtain a printed copy of the Atlas. The Atlas is distributed in both Canada Exit disclaimerand the United States.

DISCLAIMER:  Information herein is provided by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office. Its use and reference is unlimited, upon condition that the source is correctly attributed. Thank you. 

The Great Lakes
An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book

Chapter One - Introduction: The Great Lakes

  1. Physical Characteristics of the System
  2. Settlement
  3. Exploitation
  4. Industrialization
  5. The Evolution of Great Lakes Management
  6. Toxic Contaminants
  7. Understanding the Great Lakes from an Ecosystem Perspective

Chapter Two - Natural Processes in the Great Lakes

  1. Geology
  2. Climate
  3. Climate Change and the Great Lakes
  4. The Hydrologic Cycle
  5. Surface Runoff
  6. Wetlands
  7. Groundwater
  8. Lake Levels
  9. Lake Processes: Stratification and Turnover
  10. Living Resources

Chapter Three - People and the Great Lakes

  1. Native People
  2. Early Settlement by Europeans
  3. Development of the Lakes
  4. Agriculture
  5. Logging and Forestry
  6. Canals, Shipping and Transportation
  7. Commercial Fisheries
  8. Sport Fishery
  9. Recreation
  10. Urbanization and Industrial Growth
  11. Levels, Diversions and Consumptive Use Studies

Chapter Four - The Great Lakes Today - Concerns

  1. Pathogens
  2. Eutrophication and Oxygen Depletion
  3. Toxic Contaminants
  4. Pathways of Pollution
  5. Loadings to a Closed System
  6. Control of Pollutants
  7. Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification
  8. Habitat and Biodiversity
  9. Exotic Species
  10. Fish Consumption Advisories
  11. Sustainable Development
  12. Geographic Areas of Concern
  13. Major Diversion Proposals
  14. Other Basin Concerns

Chapter Five - Joint Management of the Great Lakes

  1. The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909
  2. The International Joint Commission
  3. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  4. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement-1972
  5. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement-1978
  6. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement-1987
  7. National Institutional Arrangements for Great Lakes Management
  8. Local Public Involvement
  9. An Ecosystem Approach to Management

Chapter Six - New Directions for the Great Lakes Community

  1. Cooperation
  2. Research
  3. The Future of the Great Lakes
  4. People in the Ecosystem

Conversion Table (Metric to Imperial Values)
References and Suggestions for Further Reading
Sources for Maps

List of Maps

List of Diagrams

List of Great Lakes Factsheets

Factsheet Number:

  1. Physical Features and Population
  2. Land and Shoreline Uses
  3. a Water Withdrawals
    b Water Consumed


The third edition of this atlas consists of a revision and update of the original document produced by Environment Canada, United States Environmental Protection Agency and authored by Lee Botts and Bruce Krushelnicki. Six maps originally produced by Brock University Cartography Group have been retained in this revised edition. The high quality cartography was recognized by the British Cartographical Society and received an award for excellence in cartography and design in 1988.

Contributors to the third edition:

Principal editors:

Kent Fuller
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Great Lakes National Program Office
Chicago, Illinois
Harvey Shear, Ph.D.
Jennifer Wittig
Environment Canada
Ontario Region

The following people and agencies have given valuable assistance to this project by providing information, reviewing or contributing to text, or by making helpful comments for this third edition:

Principal authors and contributors to the first and second editions:

Additional contributors:

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