Lough Neagh - United Kingdom

Basic Information

Site Name: 

Lough Neagh

Short name : 


Country (Site Location): 

United Kingdom

LTER Member Network: 

Contact: Site Manager: 

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General Site Description: 

UK ECN site. Lough Neagh covers 383 km2 and is by far the largest area of freshwater in the British Isles. Situated in the north-east of the island, it has a drainage basin of 4,453 km2, which is shared between Northern Ireland (91%) and the Republic of Ireland (9%). The average water retention time is 15 months. Although large in area, the lake is relatively shallow with a mean depth of 8.9 m (max. 25 m). This, combined with its great size and a mild and windy oceanic climate, ensures that the water column is generally well mixed. The lake supports commercial fisheries for European eel, pollan, perch and trout. The eel fishery is the most significant, with an annual catch in the region of 600 t. Lough Neagh is hypertrophic with a mean annual total phosphorus (P) concentration of 140 mg P l-1 (2017). Levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the lough support large phytoplankton populations with annual chlorophyll a concentrations typically in excess of 45 mg l-1. The dominant alga is the cyanophyte Planktothrix agardhii and the phytoplankton is now less diverse than in the late 1960s when regular monitoring began. Since then there has been regular monitoring of the plankton, lake and river nutrient concentrations, which have been used to produce nutrient budgets for the lake.

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General Characteristics, Purpose, History

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Year Site Established: 


Size : 

38 600.00ha

Purpose of Site : 

Lake ecological monitoring and research. There has been continued monitoring of Lough Neagh since the early 1970s. When the monitoring programme commenced, the focus was on relieving point source pollution. However, attempts to lower P concentrations in the lough by curtailing point sources of P have been unsuccessful due to increasing inputs from diffuse sources and continued internal loading.

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  • View of Lough Neagh
  • Water monitoring instrument in Lough Neagh
  • Sunset over Lough Neagh (swans in foreground)
  • Boats on Lough Neagh


Latitude: 54.550000000000
Longitude: -6.383330000000