This lake in Austria turns into a dry park in winter, and a deep lake in summer.

Nature has a lot of surprises in stock for us, we’re even an inclusion — such an incredible beast you are. (No offense). Think of all the natural phenomena you can possibly imagine: mountains, volcanoes, the amazing flora and fauna, water bodies, you name it. Incredibly, there’s this seasonal lake that does one of nature’s magic tricks. (Cue the drum roll!) It is a lake in summer, but come winter, it disappears completely into a dry park. Dear friends, welcome to the Grüner See in Austria.

Abracadabra: I’m A Magical Lake

Is it a park? Is it a lake? It’s… both? Grüner See translates as “Green Lake.” It’s located in the Hochschwab mountains and forests of Styria, Austria, near the village of Tragöß (say Tragoess). The name Green Lake originated because of it’s emerald-green water. The lake supports a variety of fauna such as snails, water fleas, small crabs, fly larvae, and different species of trout (Salmo). However, Green Lake is not your usual kind of lake you see all year round, because it does some magic.

Abracadabra: It is a pond all year round roughly a meter or two (3-7 feet) during the winter, but it could even get as deep as 10 meters (33 feet) during the summer. Then comes winter again, it completely disappears into a park. Like seriously! The picturesque spot for hiking and relaxing on benches until about mid-June, then gets waterlogged again, and the cycle continues. The lake completely floods nearby tree trunks, trails, benches, and even a little foot bridge occasionally used to cross the lake.

Why I Disappear? (Science Explains)

You might be wondering, how on Earth in the amazing name of nature is nature capable of such a magical stunt? Good thinking. Science can explain. The lake is surrounded by the Hochschwab mountains which is covered in snow. During the winter the ice on top of the mountains are frozen and thus Green Lake is a shallow pond of roughly a meter (3 feet) deep.

Then come spring, as the temperatures rise, the snow from the surrounding mountains melt down into the basin, where Green Pond is located. The crystal clear water comes from the snowmelt of the karst mountains. The entire basin of the mountains is filled up with snowmelt with turns Green Lake into a diving resort throughout the summer; but the water is incredibly cold — usually 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit) during the summer.

This natural phenomenon creates an almost surreal underwater diving resort until July, then the water begins to evaporate again, creating a park again from fall to winter which is frequently visited by landlubbers. However, in the summer when the water is around, it’s so crystal clear that its highly visible, clearly seen nearly 50 meters (160 feet) away; its what make the emerald in the lake visible. It’s known as the “Caribbean of the Alps.”

Sorry, You Can’t Dive In

We’ve been talking of the lake as a diving resort in summer, and indeed, it is. 

The greenery emerald-look of Green Lake attracts quite a number of tourists, making it a diving hotspot. Spoiler alert: This prompted the local tourism authority to impose restrictions; and in 2016, they made an announcement on it’s Facebook page officially prohibiting all watersport activity: that means no diving, swimming, or boats allowed in the waters of Green Lake — to preserve the bioluminescent of the lake, and prevent the widespread human activities around.

Luckily for divers, there’s another recreational lake, Lake Zenz, some 10-minute drive away if you still feel like diving. Before you plan a visit, you can make reservations at the park’s website on current water levels. But come on, the Green Lake is as amazing as it is magical. You better check it out.

Caution: Diving Is Strictly Prohibited!

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Mon, May 06, 2019.


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