Again a post about the deepest lake in the world – Baikal Lake. And now not about its steel garbage, but about its beauty and its mysteriousness.
But before some school info to help to understand the lake’s uniqueness. Baikal is the lake of a tectonic origin in the southern part of the Eastern Siberia. The maximal depth is 1 642 meters (about 5 400 feet).
About half a year the lake is icebound. In average the period of freeze-up lasts from 15 January till 1 May. Baikal is navigable only from June till September. The locals as well as many other Russian traditionally call it the Baikal Sea. And it’s not a mistake – Baikal deposits of fresh water are more than in the Great Lakes combined.
There are 336 rivers and streams (speaking only of permanent tributaries) flowing into Baikal and only one river having its source here – the Angara River. Despite rather often severe winters the source of this river has never been frozen. Temperature of water flowing out from the Baikal Lake is about +2 Celsius degrees all the year round.
The photos seem to reproduce some warmness of these places, but indeed they were taken at about -30 degrees and a strong cold wind – weather which forces you to feel the greatness of this place.
By the end of winter Baikal ice is in average about 1 meter thick and its maximal thickness can be twice more in the bays where water is very calm. When it’s freezing extremely hard huge cracks tear ice making separate fields. Such cracks can reach 30 kilometers of length and 2-3 meters of width. They appear each year in approximately the same areas of the lake. While forming they make terrible noise similar to thunder or a cannon shot. The one standing on the ice at this moment can feel like if the ground yawned at his feet. Due to these cracks water is always aerated and fish don’t suffer from the lack of oxygen.
Despite its thickness Baikal ice is rather transparent which allows photosynthesis underwater continue all the year long.
Concerning the long period of freeze-up and the ice thickness Baikal is open in winter and spring for car traffic. But 2-meter cracks can be often covered with snow and car drowning occur rather often here. And still the locals report that earlier children skated over this treacherous ice to shorten their way to school.
Baikal Lake’s ice brings many surprises to the scientists. In the early 1930’s they have discovered unusual forms of ice cover which are found only here – they are a kind of frozen bubbles of a conic shape and 6 meters high, called “sopki” (meaning a hill).