A winter on Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia (with Map & Photos)

Lake Baikal is an extraordinary lake in every way and therefore it is not surprising that it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. This huge accumulation of fresh water has many records, as we will see in detail. In this short introduction we anticipate that it is a Russian lake, that it is in southern Siberia, that it has a tectonic origin and that two of its nicknames are "the pearl of Asia" or "the blue eye".

Lake Baikal Siberia Russia
Lake Baikal Siberia Russia

Where is Lake Baikal?

 
It is in Russia, as we said at the beginning. The exact location of the lake corresponds to the following coordinates: 53 ° 18′10 ″ N 108 ° 00′17 ″ E, that is, in southeastern Russia, south of Siberia, shared by the regions of Buryatia, which encompasses the south-eastern part of the lake, and the Irkutsk region, which contains the northwestern part of the Baikal.

The deepest lake in the world

 
Baikal is the largest lake in Asia and one of the largest lakes in the world. It ranks seventh by extent or area, second by volume of water, and is the largest freshwater reserve in the world without freezing. To give you an idea of ​​its grandeur, its waters represent 20% of all fresh water on the planet that is not frozen.

Lake Baikal Siberia Russia
Lake Baikal Siberia Russia

But in addition to the above, Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, with 1680 m deep. The measurement of the depth of this lake is provisional. The most recent data on its vertical length are from 2008, obtained by Russian expeditions through the Mir Uno and Mir Dos bathyscaphs, which reached the lake bottom and left the recorded figure.

The bottom of the lake is covered by sediments accumulated over millions and millions of years. It is known that if these sediments were removed, the depth of the lake would be nine km!

Biodiversity of Lake Baikal


The flora and fauna, both lacustrine and that corresponding to its shore and areas of its influence, is very rich and varied. There are more than 1000 species of plants and more than 2500 species of animals, but these figures clearly fall short as there is still a lot of field work to do in this remote area. About 80% of the animals that live in the Baikal environment are endemic, that is, we can only find them in this area of ​​the planet.

On the other hand, within the Baikal lake waters there are located 65 species of fish, of which more than half also only live in this special place on Earth.

The nerpa or Baikal seal and the omul fish stand out.

The main properties of water


There are three characteristics that make the water in this lake very special. These are the low amount of mineral salts, the almost zero existence of dissolved organic substances and especially the high oxygen content. These three components together make the transparency really amazing.

What is the secret of these qualities despite the polluting stress that Baikal has not escaped from? The answer lies in the constant work of a modest crab that filters the water to feed itself and makes it almost pristine. Its name is sl Epischura baicalensis.

Lake Baikal Siberia Russia
Lake Baikal Siberia Russia

This crab is found only in this lake and is very abundant. So much so that it represents more than 90% of all living matter in the huge lake area.

To get an idea of ​​the transparency of its waters, it is possible to see a sunken stone more than 40 meters deep.

The color of the lake varies with the seasons. It offers beautiful shades of blue during the spring, just after the thaw. With the warming of the summer the organisms proliferate and the blue turns to green.

Water temperature


In the Baikal the temperature of its waters is highly variable due to the large area it covers, the depth and also meteorological factors and especially the season of the year.

For more than 4 months it remains frozen by a thick layer of almost a meter and a half thick. In the long winter, the deeper we are, the higher the water temperature.

During the summer, with all the ice removed, the thermal gradient of the waters reverses, that is, the areas near the surface are more temperate. In stagnant water areas, such as certain bays, you can enjoy a not inconsiderable 20º Celsius.

Lake Baikal Siberia Russia
Lake Baikal Siberia Russia

At great depths, thermometers read more or less the same regardless of the month of the year: just over 3 degrees.

On the other hand, due to magmatic fissures there are hydrothermal zones where there are waters at about 50 degrees Celsius. This occurs inside the lake and given the huge amount of water, this thermal water does not influence the rest at all.

Lakeside Cities


There are many small towns and villages bathed by the more than 2000 km of coastline that the Ojo Azul has. A sample of them are the following:

Nizhneangarsk, Ust-Barguzin, Maksimikha, Turka, Gremyachinsk, Oymur, Istok, Posolskoye, Babushkin, Vydrino, Baikalsk, Sliudinanka, Listvianka, Bolshiye Koty, Buguldeyka, Yalga, Sama.

We leave the "capital of Baikal" for the end, which is about 20 km from its waters. We are talking about Irkutsk.

Lake Baikal Siberia Russia
Lake Baikal Siberia Russia

This human enclave with a sub-arctic climate has a population of more than 600,000 inhabitants and is located about 440 m above sea level. It is on the banks of the Angara River just before its mouth in the lake.

It is a city in which the service sector absorbs more than 80% of the workforce. Here are important Russian companies associated with the railroad and also with coal and lignite mining. But above all there is the production of military aircraft.

It is an important tourist center and passage for all those who want to visit Lake Baikal. Every year more than 50,000 tourists pass through the city.

Lake Baikal Map