The water level of the Caspian Sea may have dropped between 9 and 18 meters at the end of this century. Utrecht University reported that German and Dutch scientists had calculated this. The significant drop in the water level has dire consequences for ecosystems and can also cause tension between neighboring countries.
The Caspian Sea is the largest inland lake in the world with an area of 371,000 square kilometers and is completely surrounded by land. It is bordered by Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The lake contains salt water and the water level has dropped a few inches annually since the 1990s.
This decline will continue at a faster pace in the coming decades, according to Dutch geologist Frank Wessling of Utrecht University, together with researchers from the German cities of Giessen and Bremen.
The water level is dropping faster and faster due to increased evaporation and increased lack of sea ice in winter. The study concluded that this has consequences for “the site’s unique ecosystem, with migratory birds, sturgeons and the only Caspian seals infecting their young on the ice.”
“That’s about 9 meters – in the most optimistic scenario,” says Wesling. In a worst-case scenario, at the end of the century, the water level would drop 18 meters, causing the Caspian Sea to lose a third of its surface.
Lower sea levels could also lead to tensions in the region. Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan should conclude new agreements on fishing rights and land borders as sea levels drop.
The scientists called for the formation of an international working group to address the emerging problems in a timely manner, led by the United Nations climate program.