University of Oulu

Akbari, M., Baubekova, A., Roozbahani, A., Gafurov, A., Shiklomanov, A., Rasouli, K., Ivkina, N., Kløve, B., & Torabi Haghighi, A. (2020). Vulnerability of the Caspian Sea shoreline to changes in hydrology and climate. Environmental Research Letters, 15(11), 115002.

Vulnerability of the Caspian Sea shoreline to changes in hydrology and climate

Saved in:
Author: Akbari, Mahdi1; Baubekova, Aziza1; Roozbahani, Amin2;
Organizations: 1Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, Finland
2Water and Wastewater Macro Planning Office, Ministry of Energy, Tehran, Iran
3GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany
4Earth Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, United States of America
5Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Canada
6Scientific-Research Center, Caspian Sea hydrometeorological research department, Hydrometeorological service of Kazakhstan, Kazhydromet, Kazakhstan
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: IOP Publishing, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-10


During the past three decades, sea water level (SWL) in the Caspian Sea has declined by about 2 m and sea area has decreased by about 15 000 km². This has affected coastal communities, the environment and economically important gulfs of the sea (e.g. Dead Kultuk). To assess the effects of coastline change and evaluate zones vulnerable to desiccation, we simulated SWL using total inflow from feeder rivers and precipitation and evaporation over the sea. We determined potential vulnerable areas of the sea over the past 80 years by comparing the minimum and maximum annual water body maps (for 1977 and 1995). We then determined the linear regression between SWL rise and covered potential vulnerable area (CVA), using annual Normalised Difference Water Index (NDWI) maps and SWL data from 1977 to 2018. Combining SWL-CVA regression and SWL simulation model enabled us to determine desiccated areas in different regions of the Caspian Sea due to changes in precipitation, evaporation and total inflow. The results showed that 25 000 km² of the sea is potentially vulnerable to SWL fluctuations in terms of desiccation, with 70% of this vulnerable area located in Kazakhstan. Potential vulnerable area per kilometre coastline was found to be 6 km² in Kazakhstan, 4 km² in Russia and whole of Caspian Sea, 1.5 km² in Iran, 1 km² in Azerbaijan and 0.5 km² in Turkmenistan. The results also indicated that SWL in the Caspian Sea is sensitive to evaporation and that e.g. a 37.5 mm decrease in mean annual net precipitation would lead to a 1875 km² decrease in the sea area, while a 1 km³ decrease in mean annual inflow would lead to a 1400 km² decrease in the sea area. Thus the developed framework enabled the spatial consequences of changes in water balance parameters on sea area to be quantified. It can be used to assess future changes in SWL and sea area due to anthropogenic activities and climate change.

see all

Series: Environmental research letters
ISSN: 1748-9326
ISSN-E: 1748-9326
ISSN-L: 1748-9326
Volume: 15
Issue: 11
Article number: 115002
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/abaad8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.