Lake Baikal in Eastern Russia, the deepest and oldest lake in the world, is home to 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. As of August 24, 2015 this lake is facing a crisis with 36 fires equaling an area of 138,500 hectares (342,240 acres) currently burning around its shores. The fires which surround the lake are cutting off its water arteries, which can adversely affect the ecological balance of the lake. At present the depth of the lake is at an all-time low. As a result, the drier coastline could lead to more summertime wildfires. Soot and ash are washing up on the shores of the lake and the skies above the lake, a popular tourist area, are completely covered in smoke. So too, an unusually hot summer and a lack of rainfall have contributed to making the situation worse.
This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on August 22, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner
Baikal on fire – ‘it feels like doomsday’
By The Siberian Times reporter
23 August 2015
The Siberian Times
Pristine forests around the world’s oldest lake go up in flames.
Baikal inferno. Picture: Chono Erdenebayar
These unnerving images show the scale of destruction from wildfires close to Lake Baikal, the jewel of Siberia. The sky is aglow over the Republic of Buryatia from the uncontrolled burning, the latest outbreaks of fires that have been destroying forests around the world’s oldest and deepest lake for a number of weeks.
Locals and tourists could only gaze from beaches beside the lake at the impressive but disturbing images from the flames and smoke.
The shocking scenes came amid a warning from a senior politician that wildfires now pose the greatest threat to the lake, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which contains 20% of the unfrozen freshwater on the planet.
Mikhail Slipenchuk, deputy head of the Russian parliament’s committee on natural resources and ecology, said: ‘Fires near the lake’s shores actually kill the water arteries, thus damaging the water balance in the lake’.
Pictures from around the town of Gremyachinsk, and maps of wildfires around lake Baikal. Pictures: Chono Erdenebayar and Andrey Razyvayev
Some 36 fires are burning over an area of 77,000 hectares, after a hot summer with a lack of rainfall, it was reported.
These pictures were taken by Chono Erdenebayar close to Gremyachinsk, on the shore of Lake Baikal, some 138 km south of Ulan Ude.
‘It feels like doomsday’, said one eyewitness.
On the lake’s eastern shore, the area is famed for its sunny bays and sandy beaches.