The lakes of the European perialpine region constitute a large water reservoir, which is threatened by the anthropogenic pressure altering water quality. The Water Framework Directive of the European Commission aims to protect water resources and monitoring is seen as an essential step for achieving this goal. Remote sensing can provide frequent data for large scale studies of water quality parameters such as chlorophyll-a (chl-a). In this work we use a dataset of maps of chl-a derived from over 200 MERIS (MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) satellite images for comparing water quality of 12 perialpine lakes in the period 2003– 2009. Besides the different trophic levels of the lakes, results confirm that the seasonal variability of chl-a concentration is particularly pronounced during spring and autumn especially for the more eutrophic lakes. We show that relying on only one sample for the assessment of lake water quality during the season might lead to misleading results and erroneous assignments to quality classes. Time series MERIS data represents a suitable and cost-effective technology to fill this gap, depicting the dynamics of the surface waters of lakes in agreement with the evolution of natural phenomena.