Baikal World - information about lake Baikal water
Origin & Development
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Water of Lake Baikal
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Explanation of the local terms and geographical names at lake Baikal
 A description of Baikal's water & questions concerning its pollution by S.A.Gurulev

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fulviatile trees next the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows.

Henry David Thoreau.
Walden and other writings of
The Modern Library. New York, 1937, p. 168

Information about lake Baikal water Baikal is the deepest lake on Earth. Its floor descends 1187 m below sea level. Baikal's steep sided bowl is filled with the purest low-mineralised water. The volume of this water is estimated to be 23015 km3. The average depth of the lake (that is, the ratio of the volume of water to the size of its surface) is 731 metres. This means that beneath every square metre of surface there is on average 731 m3 of water. In this, as in many other respects, Baikal holds first place amongst our planet's lakes.

Baikal's waters are the habitat of many
animals and plants. Only one species of warm blooded animal lives in Baikal - the Baikal nerpa, of the family of real seals. More than fifty species of fish have their home in it. The mass of its waters are inhabited by plants (the most dominant being algae), and animals, primarily protozoa, Crustacea (the most numerous of these being the gammarids), sponges and worms. Both common Siberian and endemic species are found amongst Baikal's flora and fauna, the degree of endemism being extremely high. Giantism is characteristic of a number of its animals.

People, long since inhabiting the shores of Baikal, have used its water to satisfy their domestic needs. This water is also suitable for industrial use.

Over the last few decades, intensive industrial development on Baikal's shores and in its basin has led to the emergence of anthropogenic factors which have a negative impact on the transparency and purity of the lake's waters. And a constant battle is being waged by environmentally aware members of the Russian public to reduce those factors to a minimum.

Science has long taken an interest in Baikal's water. A lot has been done and is clear, but there is still much study to be made and research completed. On a number of questions there are differing scientific opinions. For this reason, when talking about the water - its colour, transparency, temperature, pressure, chemistry and likewise about currents, depth, water balance and finally pollution, I have tried to be objective and have given an account of only published scientific material. On several questions I had discussions, sometimes heated, with Irkutsk scientists - B.P.Agafonov, V.A.Golubev, M.A.Grachev, V.V.Lapkanov, V.S.Lepin, G.M.Pulyaevsky, B.M.Shenkman, and M.N.Shimaraev, to whom I express my sincere gratitude. It is important to stress, however, that responsibility for this account is entirely mine.
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