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Troubled waters of the Caspian Sea

22 January 2015 [15:17] - TODAY.AZ

/By AzerNews/

By Nigar Orujova

The heart of the region, the Caspian Sea is in constant motion with its level changing from year to year. Both increase and decrease of the sea’s water level are creating challenges for the littoral states.

The Caspian Sea is a closed water reservoir, so there are periodic fluctuations in its level, the Azerbaijan Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry said.

“Climate changes in the areas of the river basins of the Volga, Ural, Samur, Kura, Terek, Sefidrud and others, whose water forms about 80 percent of the total water balance of the Caspian Sea, make a significant effect on the sea’s level fluctuations,” the Ministry said.

Recently, the level of the Caspian Sea reached the mark of 28 meters below the global ocean level. Scientists believe that the main reason for lowering level is the climate change.

Earlier, the Geography Institute at the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences predicted that the Caspian Sea level will rise by up to two meters after 2020. The Caspian Sea level has relatively stabilized since 1995. This period will last until 2020, the Azerbaijani scientists believe.

The Caspian Sea level reached its lowest level ever recorded in 1977 and was marked at minus 29 meters on the Baltic system of heights.

In the last seven years, the level of the Caspian Sea dropped by nearly 0.56 meters, while the average annual rate over the past year amounted to minus 27.43 meters on the Baltic system of heights, the Ecology Ministry said.

In addition to long-term fluctuations of the sea level, intra-annual fluctuations are also observed in the sea, which are associated with the seasons.

The rising sea level causes floods on the coastal areas, while its reduction hampers the works of the ports.

In the 1980s, the Caspian Sea level rose and floated some infrastructure on the coast. Moreover, a part of the Seaside Boulevard in Baku turned into a swamp.

Decrease and increase of the water level damage shipping industry, as well as underwater environment. The Caspian Sea, a home to about 141 fish species, is rich with natural resources.

The fall of the level in the north and middle of the Caspian Sea will lead fish to the Iranian part, where the depth reaches 1,200 meters. This will create problem for fisheries of the other four Caspian states.

Moreover, even one-meter fall in the level at the south of Azerbaijan may cause problem for Qizil Agac state reserve, the place for protection and reproduction of wintering and migratory waterfowl and steppe birds.

Constructions underway on the currently dry area of the Caspian Sea are also endangered, as they all may stay under seawaters in the near future.

The cleanness of the Caspian Sea also depends on the water level. The lower the level of sea water, the more its pollution, as the sea self-cleaning process slows. Today, pollution is one of the pressing problems of the Sea.

Experts believe that some of the causes of pollution in the sea include development of hydrocarbon reserves in the sea and its surrounding areas, high density of population and industry in the adjacent areas, intensive agricultural development in valleys and the rivers flowing into them, and its closed ecosystem.

The uncertainty of the legal status of the Caspian Sea hampers effort to effectively help this fateful water reservoir.


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