Falling sea levels in Caspian endanger ecosystem, economy
By Ayya Lmahamad
While many countries around the world are concerned about rising sea levels, the people living in the Caspian Sea region are facing the opposite problem: the rapid drop in the level of the Caspian Sea.
Geographically speaking, it is not a sea, but the world's largest lake with an area of 371,000 square kilometers. It is bounded by Kazakhstan from mid-north to mid-east, Russia from mid-north to mid-west, Azerbaijan to the southwest, Iran to the south and adjacent corners, and Turkmenistan along the southern parts of its eastern coast.
However, it is getting smaller every year, and since the 1990s, its level dropped several centimeters each year.
Problems caused by sea-level drop
According to the calculations of German and Dutch researchers published in the Nature Communications Earth & Environment journal, the water level in the Caspian Sea will lower by 9-18 meters by 2100 compared to the current level.
The researchers stated that a number of problems may occur because of that, including ecological and economic problems. It may affect the unique ecosystems and the entire coastline. The situation also threatens Caspian seals, which usually raise their offspring in the northern part of the sea, where ice is forming. The possible problems may occur also in the agriculture of the country, where there may not be enough water for irrigation.
The drop in the water level is attributed to the increased evaporation and loss of sea ice in winter.
Back in 2020, some experts stated that the water level of the Caspian Sea dropped by about 13 cm in 2019, compared to 2018. They noted the rising average of the Caspian Sea temperature as one of the reasons for the drop in the sea level.
Among other reasons, various experts note the reduction of water volume in the Volga River basin. It should be noted that the Volga is the largest river flowing into the Caspian Sea, and hence the main source of water replenishment of the sea.
Various experts state that older geographical data show that there is a periodicity in the water level of the Caspian Sea. Approximately every 250 years the level of the Caspian Sea drops, and the next 250 years it rises.
Thus, the experts believe that the water level fall corresponds to this 250-year cycle. It may decrease by another 1-1.5m and then it will rise again.
It should be noted that the highest level of the Caspian Sea according to instrumental data was in 1862.
Some Russian experts recall that between 1930 and 1970, the level of the Caspian Sea dropped to about 29 meters below sea level, but then the natural water level was restored.
Moreover, Azerbaijani experts recall that in 1978-1995 the level of the Caspian Sea rose by 2.5m, which caused significant areas to be underwater. After some time the water level stabilized.
Thus, different studies show that the cycle of rising and falling of the water level in the Caspian Sea is repeated every 250 years. There have been eight such periods over the past 4,000 years.
The experts predict a drop in the water level in the Caspian Sea until 2050.
In any case, practical steps need to be taken to improve the condition of the Caspian Sea.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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