The lake Baikal said to be the oldest lakes in the world, ageing around 25 to 30 million years approximately. The lake is also known to be one of the clearest lakes in the world. The lake forms a stunning thick ice layer around the middle term of winters, starting from January.
The ice breaks away from the lake around early May-June. In the last 50 years, the average surface temperature has risen to almost 1.5 ° C. The thickness of the frozen lake’s ice goes to around 1.6–4.6 ft or more. Due to the thickness, the lake paves a way for trucks and cars to drive across it. Travellers visiting during winters might get lucky and witness the sight of the freshwater waves of the lake instantly freezing into ice shards.
In terms of the capacity of water in it, the Lake Baikal is known to be the world’s largest freshwater lake. Identified as the seventh-largest lake in the world, It holds more than 5,521 cubic miles of water. That is approximately 20% per cent of the Earth’s fresh surface water volume. The volume of water in the lake is said to be equivalent to the volume of water in all of the five North American Great lakes merged. It also holds the seventh position in the world in terms of the surface area it occupies as it covers an area of 31,722 km and is also the deepest lake in the world at around 5,387 ft.
Part of Russia, the lake is located in the southern region of Siberia and in the northern border of Mongolia. The lake is surrounded in the luxury of the mighty and magnificent mountains, the Baikal mountains. Bikal contains more than 455 islets and islands.
The largest is the Olkhon, which is the third-largest lake bound island in the world. The lake receives water from around three hundred inflowing rivers. Its primary and largest source of water is the Selenga river. Other rivers that flow into the Baikal river is the Barguzin River, the Upper Angara River, the Turka River, the Sarma River, and the Snezhnaya River. The only outflow is through the Angara River, a tributary of the Yenisey.
Lake Bikal is known for its rich biodiversity. Nearly a thousand kinds of plants and twenty-five thousand animals have been discovered here. Unlike other lakes around the world, the Lake Baikal is known for its high level of dissolved oxygen in it. Hence, various species flourish inside the water.
Scientists say that out of this, more than 40% of the species still haven’t been described. The lake is famous for its unique species like the Baikal seal and the omul, the whitefish. The omul was listed as an endangered species due to overfishing in 2004, as the locals here are hugely dependent on it as it is the primary source of food for the locals here.
Sadly, the lake Baikal has come under various environmental threats like toxic mudflows and industrial pollution. It has also been subjected to a lot of floods recently, leaving it with huge risks. The flooding that started in the Siberian region of Irkutsk in late June has affected almost 11,000 homes. Frequent mining and poaching have left this UNESCO world heritage site exposed to a great environmental disaster.