Baikal water level falls by 1 cm

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The minimum water level record, set in April, 2015, may be broken in the spring of 2016.

After several months of increase, the water level in the lake fell by 1 cm, the Russian Federal Water Resources Agency informed.

From 23 September, the level has fallen by 1 cm – from 456.30 m to 456.29 m according to the Pacific height system.

The Baikal Institute of Nature Management SB RAS reported that the Russian government is now considering possible changes in its Decree that defines Lake Baikal’s critical water levels in terms of the ongoing water shortage.

“The problems associated with the lake basin low water content will be likely discussed at the meeting of the Russian and Mongolian sides, which will be held on 28 October in Ulan Bator,” Baikal Institute of Nature Management SB RAS Director Yendon Garmayev admitted.

The decline of the south Siberian lake level began last autumn and reached its critical mark in April for the first time in decades – 455.86 m, which is 14 m lower than the minimum water level. Scientists explain the phenomenon by low water inflow from the Selenga, Upper Angara, Barguzin, and other rivers draining directly into the world’s deepest lake.

Garmayev says the minimum water level record may be broken in the spring of 2016. According to preliminary calculations, the mark may be 28 cm lower.

At present, the Baikal’s critical water levels are limited by Decree No.234 (dated 26 March 2001). The document set the minimum water level (456.0 m) and the maximum one (457.0 m).

The Baikal is one of the greatest lakes on the planet; it’s the lake of “superlatives”: it’s the deepest lake (1,637 m), the oldest one (25 million years), it is a freshwater reservoir with the most diverse flora and fauna.

The lake has a unique supply of fresh water in terms of its volume and quality (23.6 thousand cubic kilometers which is more than 20% of the world’s freshwater resources). In 1996, the lake was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Text and pictures by TASS