The Great Lakes
The Great Lakes, or the Great Lakes of Novaris, are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes in the upper part northern part of Novaris sitting on Lunaria, Kuthernburg, and Nacata border, that connect to the North Concordian Ocean through the Navalaca Canal. They comprise lakes Nebua, Delba, Aakina, Prima, Hartden, Destuna, Niaguas. Hydrologically, there are only six lakes, because lakes Delba and Aakina join at the 3 Straits of Devanas. The lakes form the Great Lakes Waterway.
The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Urth by total area, and largest by total volume, containing 35% of the world's surface fresh water by volume. Due to their sea-like characteristics (rolling waves, sustained winds, strong currents, great depths, and distant horizons) the seven Great Lakes have also long been referred to as inland seas. Lake Delba-Aakina is the second-largest lake in the world by area, and the largest freshwater lake by surface area.
The Great Lakes began to form at the end of the last glacial period around 20,000 years ago, as retreating ice sheets exposed the basins they had carved into the land which then filled with meltwater. The lakes have been a major source for transportation, migration, trade, and fishing, serving as a habitat to many aquatic species in a region with much biodiversity.
The surrounding region is called the Great Lakes region.
Though the seven lakes lie in separate basins, they form a single, naturally interconnected body of fresh water, within the Great Lakes Basin. They form a chain connecting the central interior of Novaris to the Concordian Ocean. From the interior to the outlet at the Navalaca Canal water flows from Nebua to Delba and Aakina, northward to Prima, to Lake Hartden, and finally out to Lake Destuna. The lakes drain a large watershed via many rivers, and are studded with approximately 42,433 islands. There are also thousands of smaller lakes, often called "inland lakes", within the basin. Lake Destuna is the only one of the Great Lakes that is entirely within Kuthernburg & Nacata; the others form a water boundary between Kuthernburg, Nacata, Lunaria, and Unorganized Territories.
It has been estimated that the foundational geology that created the conditions shaping the present day upper Great Lakes was laid from 1.4 to 1.6 billion years ago, when two previously fused tectonic plates split apart and created the Kalatian Rift, which crossed the Great Lakes Tectonic Zone. A valley was formed providing a basin that eventually became modern day Lake Delba-Aakina. When a second fault line, the Harvic rift, formed approximately 632 million years ago, the basis for Lakes Hartden and Destuna were created, along with what would become the Champaign River.
The Great Lakes are estimated to have been formed at the end of the last glacial period when the retreat of the ice sheet left behind a large amount of meltwater that filled up the basins that the glaciers had carved, thus creating the Great Lakes as we know them today. Because of the uneven nature of glacier erosion, some higher hills became Great Lakes islands. The Carpatha Escarpment follows the contour of the Great Lakes between Kuthernburg and Nacata. Land below the glaciers "rebounded" as it was uncovered. Since the glaciers covered some areas longer than others, this glacial rebound occurred at different rates.
A notable modern phenomenon is the formation of ice volcanoes over the lakes during wintertime. Storm-generated waves carve the lakes' ice sheet and create conical mounds through the eruption of water and slush. The process is only well-documented in the Great Lakes, and has been credited with sparing the southern shorelines from worse rocky erosion.
The Great Lakes have a humid continental climate, with varying influences from air masses from other regions including dry, cold Arctic systems, mild Concordian air masses from the West, and warm, wet tropical systems from the south and the Gulf of Tretrid. The lakes themselves also have a moderating effect on the climate; they can also increase precipitation totals and produce lake effect snowfall.
Lake Effect Weather
The Great Lakes can have an effect on regional weather called lake-effect snow, which is sometimes very localized. Even late in winter, the lakes often have no icepack in the middle. The prevailing winds from the west pick up the air and moisture from the lake surface, which is slightly warmer in relation to the cold surface winds above. As the slightly warmer, moist air passes over the colder land surface, the moisture often produces concentrated, heavy snowfall that sets up in bands or "streamers". This is similar to the effect of warmer air dropping snow as it passes over mountain ranges. During freezing weather with high winds, the "snow belts" receive regular snow fall from this localized weather pattern, especially along the Northern shores of the lakes.
The lakes also moderate seasonal temperatures to some degree, but not with as large an influence as do large oceans; they absorb heat and cool the air in summer, then slowly radiate that heat in autumn. They protect against frost during transitional weather, and keep the summertime temperatures cooler than further inland. This effect can be very localized and overridden by offshore wind patterns. This temperature buffering produces areas known as "Fruit Belts", where fruit can be produced that is typically grown much farther south. Related to the lake effect is the regular occurrence of fog over medium-sized areas, particularly along the shorelines of the lakes. This is most noticeable along Lake Prima shores.
The Great Lakes have been observed to help intensify storms, such as Hurricane Mable in 1974, and the 2018 Lutop tornado, which moved onshore as a tornadic waterspout. In 2002 a rare tropical or subtropical storm was observed forming in Lake Delba, dubbed the 2002 Lake Delba Hurricane. Rather large severe thunderstorms covering wide areas are well known in the Great Lakes during mid-summer; these Mesoscale convective complexes or MCCs can cause damage to wide swaths of forest and shatter glass in city buildings. These storms mainly occur during the night, and the systems sometimes have small embedded tornadoes, but more often straight-line winds accompanied by intense lightning.
Historically, the Great Lakes, in addition to their lake ecology, were surrounded by various forest ecoregions except in a relatively small area of southeast Lake Destuna where savanna or prairie occasionally intruded. Logging, urbanization, and agriculture uses have changed that relationship. In the early 21st century, Lake Nebua shores are 97% forested, Lake Delba 84%, Lake Prima 53%, Lake Aakina 78%, Lake Destuna 43%, and Lake Hartden 41%. Some of these forests are second or third growth (i.e. they have been logged before, changing their composition). At least 6 wildlife species are documented as becoming extinct, and many more are threatened or endangered.
While the organisms living on the bottom of shallow waters are similar to those found in smaller lakes, the deep waters contain organisms found only in deep, cold lakes of the northern latitudes. These include the delicate opossum shrimp , the deepwater scud , several types of copepods, and the deepwater sculpin.
The Great Lakes are an important source of fishing. Early Staynish settlers were astounded by both the variety and quantity of fish; there were 214 different species in the Great Lakes. Throughout history, fish populations were the early indicator of the condition of the Lakes and have remained one of the key indicators even in the current era of sophisticated analyses and measuring instruments. On both sides of the Nacata–Kuthernburg border, the proliferation of dams and impoundments have multiplied, necessitating more regulatory efforts. Concerns by the mid-19th century included obstructions in the rivers which prevented salmon and lake sturgeon from reaching their spawning grounds. \
The fishing industry expanded particularly in the waters associated with the fur trade that connect Lake Prima and Lake Hartden. In fact, two major suppliers of fish in the 1830s were the fur trading companies Altwhears Merch Company and the Nacatan Animal Company. The catch from these waters would be sent to the growing market for salted fish in Kuthernburg, where merchants involved in the fur trade had already gained some experience handling salted fish.
Except when the water is frozen during winter, more than 182 lake freighters operate continuously on the Great Lakes, which remain a major water transport corridor for bulk goods. The Great Lakes Waterway connects all the lakes; the smaller Navalaca Seaway connects the lakes to the Concordian oceans. Some lake freighters are too large to use the Seaway, and operate only on the Waterway and lakes.
In 2019, 243 million net tons of dry bulk cargo were moved on the Lakes. This was, in order of volume: iron ore, grain and potash. The iron ore and much of the stone and coal are used in the steel industry. There is also some shipping of liquid and containerized cargo but most container ships cannot pass the locks on the Navalaca Canal because the ships are too wide. Only eight bridges are on the Great Lakes because of the cost of building structures high enough for ships to pass under.
Major ports on the Great Lakes include Navalaca, Bankfoot, Bluixginia, Cruepton, Pearl River, and Loch Rannoch.