Caspian Sea 2011


the Volga Delta — with its diverse vegetation and special hydrological and temperature condi- tions — are favourable areas for the reproduc- tion and fattening of fish with their differing en- vironmental requirements. The Volga Delta together with surrounding are- as of the Northern Caspian is one of the few plac- es in Russia where numerous nesting colonies of birds are concentrated. It is the largest reserve of copepods, ciconiiformes and other semi-aquatic and natatorial birds, which has a strong impact on their population in the large parts of the ad- jacent arid areas of southern Russia. 5.5. Climate change According to the findings of the Intergovern- mental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report of 2007, warming of the cli- mate system is unequivocal - evident from ob- served increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea levels (IPCC 2007). Average Northern Hemisphere tempera- tures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than during any other 50- year period over the last 500 years and likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years. Observed evidence from all continents and most oceans — mainly based on data sets covering the period since 1970 — shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate change, particularly temperature increases (IPCC 2007). The Caspian Sea, though a land-locked water basin not directly affected by global sea level rise, is being similarly impacted by climate change. The Caspian Basin plays an important role in atmospheric processes, regional water balance and also influences microclimates. Cli- matic phenomena in the Caspian Sea region are linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), with fluctuations in atmospheric air pressure affecting temperatures, moisture and winter storms in areas throughout Europe including the Volga Basin and rainfall over the Caspian Basin.

Based on IPCC models and methodology, it is forecasted that mean annual temperatures in the Caspian Sea will increase by between 3.7 and 4.9 C by the middle of the next century, while annual precipitation will increase by an average of 52mm (GFDL, CCC and UKMO models) or decrease by between 4 to 8mm (GISS model) 5 (Kudekov 2006). As in other regions, greenhouse gas emis- sions (GHG) from the oil and gas industry can contribute to changes in climate. Kazakhstan, with annual GHG emissions of more than 200 million tonnes of CO 2 equivalent, is by far the largest GHG emitter in Central Asia. Its energy sector generates about 80 per cent of the coun- try’s total emissions, of which about 90 per cent are emissions related to fuel combustion with the remainder made up of emissions related to extraction, transportation and processing of fu- els. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan is rapidly develop- ing its energy sector. In 1994, its GHG emissions were 52 million tonnes of CO 2 equivalent, almost all sourced from the energy sector: it is estimat- ed that the country’s total GHG emissions will increase 62% by 2010, mainly due to a growth in oil and gas production (UNDP 2007). Caspian Sea level fluctuations One of the Caspian Sea’s unique features is the relative instability of its sea level. In 1995, UNEP experts, in the regional review “ Implications of climate change in the Caspian Sea region ”, noted that changes in Caspian Sea levels were likely connected to global climate change and suggested future de- velopments would mirror potential rises in levels of the world’s oceans (UNEP 1995). Sea levels in the Caspian Sea have been fluc- tuating since the Sea became a closed basin about 5.5 millions years ago. The Sea is now between -26 and -27 m below oceanic sea lev- 5 GISS - the balanced model of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, USA; CCC - the balanced model of the Canadian Cli- mate Center; UK89 - the balanced model of the United King- dom Meteorological Agency; GFDL - the balanced model of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, University of Princeton, USA; GFDL-T - the unbalanced model of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, University of Princeton, USA.


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