A Lake that Appears and Disappears

Does it sound like magic? Well, they thought it was magic until in the second half of the 17th century when the Slovene Janez Vajkard Valvasor (Johann Weikhard von Valvasor) started researching the phenomena. Thanks to him we can now explain this magic, and thanks to him some Slovene words can be found in professional international terminology.

One of them is a polje, which in geological and geographical terminology is a large, flat-floored depression within a karst limestone area. It is written the same in Slovenian and English. Typical for a polje is that roughly half of the year it’s flooded.

And now we come to the title of this post. A lake that appears and disappears is called an intermittent lake. Cerknica polje is the largest Slovenian karst polje and locus typicus for intermittent lakes and karst poljes. When the surface and underground water flood this particular polje, they create Cerkniško jezero lake which, if water levels are high, can become the largest Slovenian lake and the largest intermittent lake in Europe.

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