The great lakes

The great lakes span around 94,000 kilometers across the United States and Canada. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior are the five lakes. The big lakes are linked by smaller lakes, straits, and rivers. The great lakes create the world's greatest freshwater system when combined. The deepest lake is Lake Superior, and the shallowest is Lake Erie. Lake Superior is the largest as well, followed by Lake Michigan (Nix 56). There are about 35,000 in the Great Lakes, albeit the majority are inhospitable and small. Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron is the largest. Due to the Great Lakes' huge area, which includes storms and hazards, numerous shipwrecks have happened. The Great Lakes have undergone innumerable changes mostly attributed to human activities. Following many adverse environmental impacts caused by humans such as pollutions, over 140 federal programs have been initiated for the Great Lakes with an aim for ecological restoration and management. Canada, tribal nations, and 8 U.S. states have joined the initiative to protect and clean up the Great Lakes.

Great lakes map and Images

Physically: why are these regions important for farming, Example: states like Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio how they benefit from these regions.

The regions around the Great Lakes are essential for farming due to the favorable weather and agricultural lands. During the inhabitance of the early settlers, meat production and dairy were the dominant agriculture products. Notably, with developments, urban populations emerged. This led to a demand for specialty crops including tobacco, fruits, and vegetables. Currently, primary crops are hay, corn, and soybeans (Ronald 24).

The Great Lakes plays a role in moderating seasonal temperatures by absorbing heat and cooling air in summer. The lakes protect the surrounding regions against frost during the transitional weather and facilitate cool temperatures in the summertime. Buffering the weather by Great Lakes has led to the "fruit belts" which has benefited neighboring regions. For example, apple and cherry orchards in Western Michigan and central Ontario are as a result of the fruit belts (Nix 58). The phenomenon also facilitates wineries to flourish in various regions around New York and Prince Edward County of Ontario. Michigan has also benefited from the phenomenon as it has promoted successful wineries. These moderating effects are localized. They only help the surrounding physical locations and within the Great lakes.

Environmentally: How they are change nowadays than use to be before.

The environmental aspects of the Great Lakes and the surrounding areas have greatly changed from how they were initially. The change has been fueled by industrialization and commercial operations, which have spurred many harmful environmental impacts. For instance, commercial fishing, which started in 1820, has been steadily increasing, with approximately 65 million pounds of fish being harvested from the Great Lakes annually (Ronald 27). Over-fishing has led to habitat destruction and pollution.

Before the industrialization and urbanization, the Great Lakes had a natural lake ecology and were surrounded by various forest ecoregions. However, urbanization and agriculture have led to extensive logging and deforestation thereby changing the relationship between the forest ecoregions and the lake ecology. Lake Erie has been affected the worst with only about 21 percent shore remaining forested. This has resulted in many environmental effects, including extinction of about 13 wildlife species. Many more wildlife species have also been listed as threatened or endangered. The forests have been moderating water temperatures and providing shade in fish spawning grounds (Nix 59). Logging has removed this adjacent tree cover thereby affecting spawning of fish. Cutting down the trees has also led to soil destabilization. This has led to massive washing of soil volumes sto stream beds causing frequent flooding and siltation of gravel beds.

The species found in the Great Lakes have increased more sthan they were initially. However, most of these new species have been associated with adverse or undesirable traits. The development of Erie Canal and Welland Canal led to an influx of parasitic lamprey populations, which caused the reduction of trout populations. Zebra mussel and quagga mussel, which were discovered in slate 1980, have brought competition with native mussels, reduced spawning grounds and available food. The round goby has been considered to spawn several times in a season. It also preys on bottom-feeding fish. Various exotic and invasive species have also been accidentally introduced into the Great Lakes (Grover and Krantzberg 335). Examples of the exotic species include water flea and fishhook water flea. Invasive species include sea lamprey (Grover and Krantzberg 335). These species have adversely affected the zooplankton population and damaged the lake trout population in the Great Lakes.

History: things like 🡪 transportation uses , trade and business

The historical use of the Great Lakes is mostly documented since explorers and settlers started engaging in activities that entailed using the Great Lakes. The primary transportation uses commenced in 1825. This comprised of shipping practices to carry freight east and settlers west through the Erie Canal. In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed (Ronald 28). This seaway allowed vessels from the ocean to access the Great Lakes. In the current era, more than 200 million tons of cargo pass are transported through the Great Lakes. Grain, iron ore and coal art include the principal cargoes. The Great Lakes were also the primary transportation means for the immigrants during the settlement. The Illinois and Michigan Canals, which were opened in 1848, boosted the transportation by enabling direct access to Mississippi River from the Great Lakes. This transportation of people to settle and cargo shipping business has been credited to form many large cities.

Transport, agriculture, trade, and business coexist together. Before the European settlement, the indigenous native inhabitants living around the Great Lakes did not trade with outside nations. After European settlements during the seventeenth century, trade emerged with fur being the main commodity. The business was primarily undertaken among countries such as English, French and Dutch merchants (Nix 60). The discovery of fabled Northwest Passage to Asia led to an increased competition which later sparkled war between France, Netherlands, and Britain. The opening of Erie Canal in 1825 boosted public venture into business between the region and the Atlantic seaboard. Following intensive research, new agricultural techniques and machinery were introduced. Vast terrain of farmlands was developed with wheat and corn as the primary produce.

The Great Lakes enabled transportation of agricultural products to various places such as Ohio and New York. Rivers connecting the Great Lakes provided a good connection between major places, such as the Ohio River, thereby enabling transportation of agricultural products from Indiana, Southern Ohio and Illinois to New Orleans. The enhanced transport and new developments facilitated mining, especially the soft metals of lead, copper, and zinc. Timber business also snowballed due to the increased demand for lumber needed for new settlements (Nix 61). Notably, to facilitate better agricultural methods for a better trade, many innovations were developed which are today globally recognized as an influential breakthrough in building construction, technology, and transportation. The major innovations include the automobile manufacture, John Deere’s steel plow, Dart’s Elevator and Cyrus McCormick’s reaper.

Economics effect

The Great Lakes have been of immense economic effects to the surrounding communities and the nation at large. An investigation from the University of Michigan supported by the Michigan Sea Grant demonstrated that more than 1.5 million occupations are associated with the Great Lakes, creating $62 billion in compensation every year (Health Lakes Organisation 18).

The Great Lakes are the foundation of one of the world's biggest provincial economies. For instance, the businesses and people in the Great Lakes account for around 28 percent of U.S. GDP, as per the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The states in the Great Lakes bowl, as indicated by Fortune Magazine, are home to 38 percent of the Fortune 500 organizations. The Great Lakes in more than 1.5 million fishers every year, who are the establishment of a $7 billion game and recreational fishery that has created 58,291 employment, as indicated by the American Sportfishing Association (Health Lakes Organisation 21). An examination done by the Great Lakes Commission found that there are 4.3 million enrolled pontoons in the eight-state locale. Spending on drifting and sailing exercises produced $16 billion out of 2003, straightforwardly supporting 107,000 employment.

In Indiana, more than 50, 000 jobs are related to the Great Lakes. In 2014, 53 projects worth $53 were funded by the initiative involved with the Great Lakes. The wildlife recreation industry related to the Great Lakes totals approximately $1.7 billion. In Illinois, 85 projects worth $75 million have been started through the Great Lakes initiative. The wildlife recreation industry also totals $3.8 billion annually as a result of the Great Lakes. Although only a small area of Illinois is touched by the Great Lakes, it creates more than 350, 000 jobs. In Ohio, 146 projects totaling to $84 million have been funded by the lakes initiative and more than 150, 000 jobs are also connected to the Great Lakes. In Minnesota, more than 20, 000 jobs are connected to the Great Lakes, and 72 projects worth $22.9 have been funded by the Great Lakes initiative. The Great Lakes have created 12, 000 jobs in New York, 173, 000 jobs in Wisconsin, 800, 000 jobs in Michigan and 25, 000 jobs in Pennsylvania (Health Lakes Organisation 21).

Name Origins

Michigan Lake started forming more than one billion years ago when the Mid-Continental Rift was created following the ripping apart of two tectonic plates. It was discovered around 1634 by French Explorer Samuel de Champlain on a mission to find the ‘Northwest Passage”. The lake’s name is derived from the Ojibwa Indian word “mishigami” meaning a large lake (Zimmermann 34). The origin of Lake Huron hails from French explorers, who named it with regard to the Huron people living in the region. Champlain, a European, who called it Lac de St. Louis back in 1632, first named Lake Ontario. About three decades afterward, it was renamed Lacus Ontarius by Creuxius, a Jesuit historian, meaning ‘beautiful lake.' The name Lake Erie emanates from the word Erielhonan, which is a term from the Iroquois language meaning “long tail.” The name was formed from the inhabitants of the southern shore who referred themselves as “people of the long tail cat,” Lake Superior was named by the French as Lac Superieur meaning "the upper lake." The original inhabitants’ used to call the lake "Kitchi-gummi" which means "great water." Jesuit had also named it Lac Tracy, but Lake Superior became the widely known name.


The Great Lakes have a history that stretches centuries ago. Historically, the Great Lakes have been used for transportation and trade purposes. The Great Lakes benefits the surrounding communities through the provision of favorable weather by moderating seasonal temperatures. Many environmental changes have occurred leading to changes in the Great Lakes ecology. These include logging and introduction of invasive and exotic species with undesirable traits. Initiatives are however underway to ensure that the Great Lakes are cleaned and protected from pollution and over-fishing. The great concern given to the Great Lakes emanates from the fact that they are a source of direct and indirect employment to millions of Americans. Their contribution to the economy is also immense.


Ronald. Great Lakes Archaeology. New York: Academic Press, 2011.

Grover and Krantzberg. Great Lakes. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2012. Print.

Health Lakes Organisation. "Economic Benefits." Healing Our Waters Coalition, 2017. Web. 17 Oct. 2017.

Nix. "Are The Great Lakes Connected?.", 2017. Web. 17 Oct. 2017.

Zimmermann. "Lake Michigan Facts." Live Science. 2017. Web. 17 Oct. 2017.

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