Baikal lake

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Baikal lake
Map baikal2.png
Detailed map of Lake Baikal
Geographical location Irkutsk Oblast , Buryatia ( Russia )
Tributaries Selenga , Upper Angara , Barguzin , Sneschnaja , Turka , Kichera , Tyja , Tompuda , Frolikha , Tschiwyrkui , Kabanja , Utulik , Schegnanda
Drain Angara
Location close to the shore Irkutsk
Coordinates 53 °  N , 108 °  E Coordinates: 53 °  N , 108 °  E
Lake Baikal (Russia)
Baikal lake
Altitude above sea level 455.5  m
surface 31,722 km² (excluding islands)dep1
length 673 km
width 82 km
volume 23,615 km³ (maximum)dep1
scope 2125 km
Maximum depth 1642 m
Middle deep 758 m
Catchment area 571,000 km²dep1


  • Deepest and oldest freshwater lake on earth
  • World natural heritage since 1996
  • Visibility under water: up to 40 m
Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / VERIFICATION LAKE WIDTH Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / EVIDENCE SCOPE Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / VERIFICATION MED DEPTH

The Lake Baikal ( Russian озеро Байкал Ozero Baikal , Buryat Байгал Bajgal , often in English as in Russian only (the) Baikal called) is a lake in Siberia , in the Asian part of Russia . At 1,642 meters, it is the deepest , with more than 25 million years the oldest and also the most abundant freshwater lake on earth. Its outflow, the Angara , flows over the Yenisei into the Kara Sea of the polar sea . In 1996 the Baikal region was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO .

The main inner belt asteroid (2776) Baikal is named after the lake.



Lake Baikal is located in the South Siberian Mountains on the border between Irkutsk Oblast on the western and northern banks and the Republic of Buryatia on the eastern and southern banks. The high mountains that frame the lake include the Baikal Mountains on the west and northwest banks , the Stanowoi Highlands in the northeast, the Bargusing Mountains and the Ulan-Burgassy Mountains on the east bank, the Chamar-Daban Mountains in the south and the Eastern Sayan , which stretches to the southwest of the lake rises.

Geographical dimensions

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on earth at 1642 m. Its water surface, 455.5 m above sea ​​level , is 31,722 km² (according to other information 31,500 km²). The lake has a shore length of around 2125 km, is 673 km long from the southwest to the northeast (center line of the Baikal) and a maximum of 82 km wide. Its average width is 48 km.

Climate and ice

There is a relatively mild, continental coniferous forest climate around Lake Baikal . There are about 2000 hours of sunshine annually, with December being the month with the least sunshine with 77 and June being the sunniest month with 275 hours of sunshine. There is about 450 mm of precipitation annually, with 9 mm falling in February and 120 mm in July.

Lake Baikal near Listvyanka (April 2008)

The winters (November to March) are dry and cold with average temperatures of around −20 ° C; permafrost prevails from the beginning of November to the end of March. In the mountains around the lake there is snow from mid-September to the end of June, in the valleys from mid-November to early April. Temperatures can drop to around −50 ° C.

Spring (April / May) and autumn (September / October) are short with only two months each. Night frost can last into June and then again from the end of August.

The summers (June to August) are relatively warm with average temperatures around 15 ° C and daytime temperatures often over 20 ° C. This is also the time when most of the rain falls.

Because of the enormous amount of water in the lake, the water temperature hardly rises above 10 ° C even in July and August. From around the middle of November to the beginning of May, the surface is usually completely frozen over.


View from Tscherski -Fels to the origin of Angara in Lake Baikal, including shamans stone
Video on the origin of the Angara in Lake Baikal
Investigation of the ice cover

The Baikal forms the largest reservoir of liquid fresh water on earth with about a fifth of the liquid fresh water reserves. The lake has a volume of 23,615.39 km³, which is larger than that of the Baltic Sea and about 480 times the water content of Lake Constance . The catchment area of the lake with its tributaries covers about 571,000 km².

Lake Baikal is fed by 336 rivers and countless streams. The largest rivers are the Upper Angara , the Selenga and the Barguzin . The Angara is the outflow of the lake and one of the great rivers of Siberia .

In geological terms, the lake used to have its drainage at two other places: First, it was located a little north of today's Angara and was connected to the bed of today's Lena . This drainage was blocked by mountain formation ( Baikal Mountains ). The second drain was further south. This was also closed by an earthquake about 16,000 years ago.

In April 2015 the water surface of the lake was 455.89 m above sea level, only slightly higher than the previously established record low of 455.30 m, measured in April 1982; a further decrease of 5 cm is expected for spring [obsolete] . According to the Russian Ministry of Civil Defense , the level of water inflow in the summer and autumn of 2014 was only 67% of the normal value.

Mongolia plans to build eight power plants on the Selenga tributary of Baikal .

Comparison with the Great Lakes of North America

The Great Lakes of North America ( Lake Erie , Lake Huron , Lake Michigan , Lake Superior and Lake Ontario ) reach together a water volume of about 22,680 cubic kilometers, which almost corresponds to the Lake Baikal, and thus contain the second-fifth of all liquid fresh water on earth. In contrast, the surface of the Great Lakes, with a total of around 244,300 km², is over seven and a half times as large as that of Lake Baikal.

Comparison with Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea , which with 386,400 km² of water surface and 78,700 km³ volume is the largest lake on earth, is several times larger than Lake Baikal in these two dimensions. However, the water of the Caspian Sea is not pure fresh water compared to that of Lake Baikal , even if the salinity is lower than in the oceans.

Baikal Trench

Lake Baikal is part of a continental rift valley . The so-called Baikal Trench , which has developed from a weakened zone to a rift valley for millions of years, continues to expand and deepen by about 2 cm per year.

Because the Eurasian and Amurian plates drift apart here, cracks develop in the earth's crust; This is due to the collision of the Indian plate , which lies far to the south, and which pushes the aforementioned plates apart like a wedge. The zone of the Baikal Trench, which has the greatest weakening, is in the area of ​​Lake Baikal.

The rift in which the lake lies is about 1,600 km long, almost 6 km deep and filled with sediments . Therefore, Lake Baikal “only” extends to a depth of 1642 m. This means that the deepest lake on earth also has its deepest cryptodepression .

A variety of thermal springs and increased seismic activity suggest that the earth's crust is very active in this region.

Island world

Within Lake Baikal there are 22 larger islands and on its shores numerous islets and rocks jutting out of the water. Its largest island is Olkhon ( Ol'chon ; near the west bank; 730 km² and 72 km long), the mountains of which are up to 1276  m high (821 m above the level of the lake). The largest peninsula of the lake is Swjatoi Nos on the east bank (literally "Holy Nose", where Nos in Russian often stands for headlands or capes ), the mountains of which rise up to 1636  m (1181 m above the level of the lake) and around In the middle of the lake, the Uschkanji Islands are offshore. The island of Jarki , which consists of alluvial sand and is threatened with destruction, at the northern end of the waterway separates the delta of the Kitschera and Upper Angara rivers from the rest of the lake.


The Baikalsk paper and pulp mill on the shores of Lake Baikal

After the Second World War, industrialization in the area around the lake was driven forward, which was made possible primarily by the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Mainline . For this purpose, paper and pulp mills were built near Baikalsk (1966) and Selenginsk . They also began to fish the lake excessively. Due to increasing industrialization, the cities on the lake shore, especially Baikalsk, also grew. The wastewater from the city and industry is discharged into Lake Baikal without being treated. Both of these contribute significantly to the pollution of the local environment, i.e. the lake water as well as the soil and the air.

The paper and pulp mill near Baikalsk received a loan from the World Bank in 2003 , according to information from Greenpeace in the amount of 22.4 million US dollars, to help finance the modernization of the mill , which was estimated at 33.5 million US dollars at the time. Since the implementation of the restructuring plan remained inadequate, the World Bank withdrew the loan in 2005. The governor of the Irkutsk region promised to close the plant in 2009. However, this decision was reversed by Prime Minister Putin, which led to protests by environmental experts. The factory was closed in 2012. A small part of the plant is still used to generate hot water and district heating for the village of Baikalsk. The number of residents in Baikalsk is falling due to the closure.

The landscape at Lake Baikal is threatened by the use of forests in the form of deforestation , which greatly changes the appearance near the lake. The shore is increasingly being built with dachas of rich Russians, often in circumvention of national or regional laws on nature and landscape protection.

Bargusin estuary at Ust-Bargusin on the west bank

natural reserve

In order to counteract the destruction of the landscape and nature of the Baikal region, nature reserves and in some cases national parks have been set up in many places . On the central western shore of Lake Baikal is the Baikal-Lena Nature Reserve , on the opposite, the spreads Barguzin Nature Reserve from to which is south of the Trans-Baikal connects -Nationalpark. The Baikal Nature Reserve was established at the southern end of the lake . In the nearby on the western shore island Olkhon to a few kilometers off the south end of the lake, the spreads Cisbaikal -Nationalpark out. In addition, Lake Baikal is completely surrounded by a coastal protection zone.

In 1996, the huge Baikal region was approved by the UNESCO in the list of world heritage as a world natural heritage added.

On the 730 square kilometer island of Olkhon, a single national park ranger supervised compliance with the national park rules in 2017, despite a multiplication of visitors since 2006.



Sunset on the lake

The localities on the lakeshore and near Lake Baikal include:


The Baikal region, which is usually still relatively sparsely populated with the above-mentioned localities, especially the area around Lake Baikal, is usually only accessible with a few roads near the shore. At the north end the lake is affected by the route of the Baikal-Amur main line and at the south by that of the Trans-Siberian Railway . There are important airfields in Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude .

When Lake Baikal is frozen over during the cold season, ice roads called “Zimnik” are created on the ice surface. Some places on Baikal and the islands can only be reached via these ice tracks, on which mostly young Russians often “drift” with cars, or they can be pulled over the ice surface by a car on a sled.


Baikal Museum of the Limnological Institute

Neutrino telescope

Lake Baikal is located in 1,100 meters of water, the neutrino telescope Baikaler underwater neutrino telescope ( Russian Байкальский подводный нейтринный телескоп , English Baikal Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope (BDUNT) ). The system consists of 192 light sensors, which are arranged in a cylinder shape (height of the system 80 meters, diameter 50 meters). The telescope is used to study neutrinos . Operation is only made possible by the large amount of pure water with sufficient depth that can only be found here in the world.

Limnological Institute

The Limnological Institute of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy, which is part of the Irkutsk Science Center , operates a museum on the flora and fauna of Lake Baikal in Listvyanka . Scientists at this institute also found an explanation for the phenomenon of ice circles .

Flora and fauna

Baikal seal in the Listvyanka Baikal Museum

Lake Baikal and its environment have a unique flora and fauna : around two thirds of the around 1500 animal and 1000 plant species are endemic , so they only occur here. Since the lake is getting deeper and deeper, the animals had a lot of time to adapt, which means that there is a high biodiversity even at a depth of 1.6 km.

In the surrounding 20,000 km² national park you can find lynxes , bears , deer and wolves , among others .

Endemic fauna

The only species of seal that only occurs in freshwater , the nerpa or Baikal seal ( Pusa sibirica ), lives in Lake Baikal . Since the discovery of the Baikal seal, it is a mystery how this species could have colonized Lake Baikal. There is a close relationship with the Eismeer- Ringed Seal ( Pusa hispida hispida ).

The water of Lake Baikal is constantly being naturally clarified, so it is very clean. Tiny amphipods (230 species, which make up 90% of the lake's biomass) keep it clean . Particularly noteworthy is a tiny crab, the Baikal-Epischura ( Epischura baikalensis ), which eats the smallest algae and bacteria. This cancer is only one and a half millimeters long. Another, slightly larger flea shrimp, called Jur by the local residents ( Macrohectopus branickii ), can devour dead fish, drowned insects and even terrestrial vertebrates.

Fish species of Lake Baikal

The omul , a species of vendace , and the Golomjanki , the deepest freshwater fish on earth, are also found here. This is made possible, among other things, by the low water temperature of the lake, which is only about 7 ° C on the surface in the annual mean. More oxygen can be dissolved in cold water. However, the temperature of the water increased by 2 degrees between 1977 and 2017. Because of the halving of the omul population, its catch was banned in October 2017. In total there are at least 64 species of fish in Lake Baikal, mainly from the bullhead family , but also carp , salmon and others. Most bullhead species are endemic. The FishBase database has an incomplete list of the following fish species:


Carp fish



Tourism and sport

The village of Listvyanka has been developed for tourism with restaurants, hotels and traffic routes. Due to the high pollution caused by visitors to the nearby city of Irkutsk, the lake in the shore zone around Listvyanka is considered ecologically dead.

A long-distance hiking trail leading around Lake Baikal , the Great Baikal Trail , has been under construction since 2003 through the use of volunteers from all over the world; Further construction phases will also be carried out in summer 2018. In 2009, the long-distance hiking trail Frolikha Adventure Coastline Track (FACT) was designated on the north-eastern shore of the lake.

Because of its low water temperatures, the lake is only suitable for bathing in a few shallow areas.

On the basis of the 2005 law on the establishment of special economic zones in Russia, tourist special economic zones are also being set up, two of which are being built on Lake Baikal: One zone is being created in the Irkutsk region on the west bank near the village of Bolshoye Goloustnoye, north of Listvyanka. The concept was confirmed in April 2009. The second zone has been under construction since 2007 in Buryatia on the east bank in the region between the villages of Turka and Peski directly opposite the island of Olkhon.

Every year in March, the Baikal Marathon takes place, where you run across the frozen lake.


Web links

Commons : Lake Baikal  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Morphometric Data - Lake Baikal; A new bathymetric map of Lake Baikal; INTAS Project 99-1669; Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium; Consolidated Research Group on Marine Geosciences (CRG-MG), University of Barcelona, ​​Spain; Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russian Federation; State Science Research Navigation-Hydrographic Institute of the Ministry of Defense, St.Petersburg, Russian Federation; accessed June 22, 2013; on
  2. Lake Baikal: Numbers , accessed on August 4, 2017, from
  3. a b c Lake Baikal in the State Water Register of the Russian Federation (Russian)
  4. a b Lake Baikal , at, accessed May 17, 2015
  5. ^ Lutz D. Schmadel : Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition. Ed .: Lutz D. Schmadel. 5th edition. Springer Verlag , Berlin , Heidelberg 2003, ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7 , pp.  186 (English, 992 pp., [ONLINE; accessed on September 13, 2019] Original title: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . First edition: Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg 1992): “1976 SZ 7 . Discovered 1976 Sept. 25 by NS Chernykh ”
  6. Water level of Lake Baikal reaches record low point of the 21st century. RIA Novosti , February 17, 2015, accessed February 17, 2015 (Russian).
  7. Lake Baikal fell an inch ,, April 6, 2015
  8. a b c d Bad Awakening in Russia's Paradise. In: January 5, 2017, accessed September 21, 2018 .
  9. Lake Baikal in Danger ( Memento of November 13, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), October 23, 2003, accessed on March 4, 2008, on
  10. Lake Baikal: World Bank closes money tap , Greenpeace Germany, April 11, 2005, accessed on March 4, 2008.
  11. Finally: The cellulose combine on Lake Baikal closes , Internet newspaper Russland-Aktuell , from April 15, 2009, accessed on April 15, 2009, on
  12. Putin has the controversial factory on Lake Baikal reopened., accessed on August 26, 2019
  13. environmental dispute over pulp and paper combine Baikalsk , accessed on 24 January 2010 on
  14. Axel Bojanowski : Researchers explain the secret of the ice circles, February 3, 2010, accessed November 6, 2010.
  15. a b Fishbase : Species in Baikal , on
  16. Great Baikal Trail - General Project Schedule for 2018