World Bank Initiates Caspian Sea Research to Address Looming Crisis

ASTANA – The World Bank intends to conduct research on the study of the decline in the Caspian Sea level, one of the urgent problems for the region’s community, reported Aktau port’s press service on Feb. 7.

Images of the Caspian Sea drying up. Photo credit: Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary’s press service.

“Our goal is to find answers to several questions: is the decline due to reduced inflows from key rivers, amplified evaporation rates driven by climate change, or just a cyclical fluctuation? The implications are profound, affecting both the environment and the critical trade routes the Caspian Sea supports,” wrote Victor Aragones, senior transport economist at the World Bank, in a social media post.

Over the next 18 months, HR Wallingford specialists will examine data from previous studies on the Caspian Sea, and the results of regional climate models (RCM), and prepare a digital elevation model and a hydrological model of watersheds. Hydrodynamic modeling of the entire Caspian Sea and Aktau port will also be carried out using software (TELEMAC) to simulate future climate change scenarios.

The data and recommendations developed during the research will be used in subsequent projects for the reconstruction and modernization of the infrastructure and equipment of the Aktau port.

Over the past decades, the decline in the Caspian Sea level has become a serious problem affecting the ecology, economy and social aspects of the countries bordering this inland body of water. 

“Since 1995, a concerning trend has emerged: the Caspian Sea’s level has been steadily declining, dropping about 1.4 meters as measured by the Baltic system. The cause of this alarming change remains unknown,” wrote Aragones.

Experts have expressed concerns about the long-term consequences of this phenomenon, including loss of biodiversity, deterioration of water and air quality, as well as threats to economic stability.

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