What is the difference between a pond and a lake?
Credit: AFP/Getty Images AFP Getty Images
Q:

What is the difference between a pond and a lake?

A:

Quick Answer

Scientists have not agreed on the technical, formal differences between a pond and a lake, though in practice, a pond is not as deep or large as a lake. Whether a body of water is called a pond or lake usually depends on local conventions.

  Know More

Full Answer

Scientists who study inland waters consider depth to be the defining characteristic of ponds. They propose that ponds are bodies of water where sunlight penetrates to the bottom of all areas. In contrast, lakes are so deep that sunlight does not penetrate to the bottom. On the other hand, biologists and other researchers use surface area as the defining feature. The International Ramsar Wetland Convention sets 20 acres as the largest surface area for a pond, while an organization called Pond Conservation uses five acres as the maximum size. Inland bodies of water larger than these maximums are considered lakes.

Some inland bodies of water do not fit the definitions of "pond" and "lake" convincingly. There may be some question about classifications for a body of water in which sunlight penetrates to the bottom for nine months of the year, but algae prevents sunlight from reaching the bottom in the summer months, or what to call a 100-acre body of clear, shallow water. For example, one of the most famous ponds in the United States is called Walden Pond, yet its surface area measures 61 acres and its depth is between 102 and 107 feet.

Learn more about Bodies of Water

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How big is Lake Michigan?

    A:

    Lake Michigan measures 307 miles in length and is 118 miles wide. At the surface, the water of the lake covers approximately 22,300 square miles and is ringed by a shoreline that measures 1,638 miles in length. The lake's average depth is approximately 279 feet.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How deep is Lake Michigan?

    A:

    At its deepest point, Lake Michigan has a depth of 925 feet. On average, however, the lake has a depth of approximately 279 feet. As of 2014, Lake Michigan is the third largest Great Lake in North America with a water surface area of 22,300 square miles.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How deep is Lake Charles?

    A:

    Southwestern Louisiana's Lake Charles has a maximum depth of roughly 40 feet. While much of the lake is shallower, the Calcasieu Ship Channel at the western side of the lake was dredged to enable large vessels to pass through.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How deep is Lake Ontario?

    A:

    Lake Ontario measures 802 feet at its greatest depth and has an average depth of 283 feet. Its basin holds 393 cubic miles of water.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore