The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in eastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by surface.They are sometimes referred to as the North Coast or "Third Coast" by some citizens of the United States. Because of their size, types of ecosystems, and large abundances of beaches and coastal wetlands along their coasts, some regard them as inland seas or as one sea.The Great Lakes hold 20% of the world's fresh water.
The effect of Great Lakes on weather in the region is called the lake effect. In winter, the moisture picked up by the prevailing winds from the west can produce very heavy snowfall, especially along lake shores to the east such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and New York. The lakes also moderate seasonal temperatures somewhat, by absorbing heat and cooling the air in summer, then slowly radiating that heat in autumn. This temperature buffering produces areas known as "fruit belts", where fruit typically grown farther south can be produced. Western Michigan has apple and cherry orchards, and vineyards adjacent to the lake shore as far north as the Grand Traverse Bay. The eastern shore of Lake Michigan and the southern shore of Lake Erie have many wineries as a result of this, as does the Niagara Peninsula between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. A similar phenomenon occurs in the Finger Lakes region of New York as well as Prince Edward County, Ontario on Lake Ontario's northeast shore. Related to lake effect, is the occurrence of fog over medium-sized areas, particularly along the shorelines of the lakes. This is most noticeable along Lake Superior's shores, due to its maritime climate.
Relative elevations, average depths, maximum depths, and volumes of the Great Lakes.