The Baku Bay is getting shallow

The Baku Bay is getting shallow

For years, the receding waters of the Caspian Sea have been a pressing concern for hydrologists and the general public alike. In Azerbaijan, the significant decrease in the sea's surface has become evident through the shallowing of the seabed in Sumgayit and along Baku's marine boulevard. However, recent weather patterns have brought a glimmer of hope.

The autumn of last year and the spring of 2024 have witnessed an increase in precipitation across all Caspian littoral countries. The Volga, Ural, and Kura rivers, along with nine other rivers in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Dagestan, feed into the Caspian Sea, contributing to its water levels. Reports from Russian media in April highlighted a substantial rise in water levels in the Zhiguli Reservoir, which has reached levels that threaten country houses near Tolyatti.

Natalia Krylova, head of the Togliatti Specialized Hydrometeorological Observatory, noted in April, "Now the water level in the Volga is at around 28-29 meters, but by the end of the month it will rise to 35-36 meters" .

Similarly, the Ural River near Orenburg experienced record-breaking levels. On April 10, the governor's press service reported that the water level had surged by 44 centimeters in one day, reaching a historic high of 1022 centimeters  . The mayor of Orenburg remarked that all critical water level marks had been exceeded, with the river surpassing the danger threshold of 930 centimeters .

In Azerbaijan, the Kura River saw its water level near Salyan rise by one and a half meters by mid-April, attributed to persistent rainy weather . This trend has continued, with heavy rains and even snow in mountainous areas observed from mid-April to mid-May. As a result, further increases in the Kura River's water levels are anticipated in the coming months.

These hydrological changes have led to a noticeable rise in the Caspian Sea's water levels. In Aktau, Kazakhstan, a local resident who measures the sea level daily reported an increase of 10-15 centimeters. While some skeptics argue that this rise is merely a temporary effect caused by strong winds, experts see a more substantial trend.

Kazakh scientist Nurlan Munbayev posits that significant inflows from Russia could contribute to the Caspian Sea's rising levels. "If the level of the Ural River rises by 9-11 meters, this may lead to an increase in the level of the Caspian Sea, since the Urals flows into its northern part, into the Atyrau Bay. Given the huge surface area of the Caspian Sea, this additional volume of water can lead to an increase in sea level by 2-3 meters," Munbayev explained.

This potential rise in the Caspian Sea offers a much-needed respite for the region. As the world's largest enclosed inland body of water, its health is critical for the surrounding ecosystems and the economies of littoral states. The recent precipitation and subsequent increase in river inflows could mark a positive turning point, reversing years of troubling decline and bringing renewed hope to the Caspian region.

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