By Nigar Orujova
The level of the Caspian Sea, the pearl of the region, continues to decrease reaching the mark of 28 meters below the global ocean level.
Director of the Geography Institute at the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences Ramis Mammadov noted that today’s level of the Caspian Sea approximately corresponds to the level of the sea in the 1970s.
He went on to say that the main reason for lowering level is the climate change.
Earlier, the institute 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.
Each sea has its own water balance, which consists of the flowing rivers falling into it and precipitation and evaporation from its surface. "If the water balance changes, the sea level will also change," he said.
Mammadov said that the main water flow into the Caspian Sea came from the Volga River, the level of which has dropped in recent years.
"This year, the volume of the river fell sharply to 200 cubic kilometers, while earlier it was 300 cubic kilometers. When adding water volume of 5 cubic kilometers in the Caspian Sea, the sea level will rise by one centimeter. The reduction of water flowing into the Caspian Sea on 100 cubic kilometers will lead to the lowering of the sea level by 20 centimeters. In addition, the average annual rainfall has decreased," he added.
Both lowering and rising of the sea level have their positive and negative sides. The rising sea level causes floods on the coastal areas, while its reduction will hamper the works of the ports, he stressed.
Mammadov also noted that the lowering of the level of the Caspian Sea should not be a cause for concern, since it is one of the features of the sea.
Speaking about the possibility of the seawater purification given the concerns over the pollution of the Caspian Sea, he said that this amount of water cannot be cleaned. “So, we need to stop pollution of the sea,” he added.
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 Caspian Sea, a home to about 141 fish species, is rich with natural resources. The resource-rich basin of the Caspian Sea has been in the spotlight of the coastal nations – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran.
The littoral states have not yet reached a consensus on the basin's legal status. The unresolved status issues have caused many problems, the most significant of which is its increased pollution. Oil production and refining has adversely affected the environmental condition of the sea.