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Annual river map

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Annual river runoff

The main rivers of the Baikal basin are the Selenga, giving about a half of the river flow into the lake, with its tributaries, namely, the Chikoy, Khilok, Orkhon, and Uda, as well as the Upper Angara, Barguzin, Turka, etc.

Diversity of natural conditions of the Baikal basin causes large fluctuations in water content of rivers within the territory. The norm of the annual runoff varies from 0.62 to 27.8 L/s km2. Its value decreases from north to south, in accordance with a general decrease in precipitation and an increase in evaporation discharge. The maximum water content (from 12.7 to 27.8 L/s km2) is characteristic of the northmost rivers (the Upper Angara with its tributaries: Rel, Tyya, and Kholodnaya), as well as the rivers that originate on the slopes of the Khamar-Daban range (Bol’shaya Rechka, Snezhnaya, Khara-Murin, and Utulik). The rivers of the Ulan-Burgasy range, namely, the Turka and Kika, are characterized by high water content. The increased water content of 5.63 L/s km2 (r. Eroo) to 9.70 L/s km2 (r. Chikoy) is characteristic of the rivers of the Khentei-Chikoy highlands. The increased water content in the same range is also observed in the rivers of the Barguzin basin and in the watersheds of the Temnik and Tsakirka rivers, carrying their waters from the northern slopes of the Khamar-Daban.

The rivers of the Selenginskoe middle mountains and watercourses of the Mongolian part of the Baikal basin are characterized by the lowest water content (except for the above mentioned r. Eroo, a relatively high water content amounting to 4.65 L/s km2 is descriptive of the Tuul River with, which originates in the Khentei mountains). For all other river basins the norm of annual runoff ranges from about 1 to 3 L/s km2. The average annual runoff of the highly located watersheds of the rivers of the Khangai and Khovsgol regions is in the same range, which is due to the limited access of the moisture-bearing air masses. The greatest differences in the water content are observed in the Orkhon River basin due to combined effects of orography, terrain elevation, latitude, and soil-geological conditions.

The value of the variability of annual runoff has a general tendency of increasing from north to south and varies from 0.15 to 0.65 within the territory under consideration. Exceptions are provided by the sections of the upper reaches of the Khilok and Tuul rivers, where the values ​​of the variation coefficient are much higher. For example, in the r. Khilok–st. Sokhondo section line (А= 1900 km2) Cv = 1.32. The annual runoff module at this point varies from 0.01 (1978) to 5.84 L/s km2 (1984). In winter, the river freezes over every year, and dries out in the summer low water years, and in some years there is no river runoff during 9 months (1965, 1967). In the r. Tuul–Ulaanbaatar section line (А = 6300 km2) Cv= 0.82, which is due to drying and through freezing of the river frequently observed here, as well as to a significant anthropogenic load. In this section line the average water consumption vary within wide limits and their values ​​can vary up to 13 times. For example, Qav. amounted to 5.00 m3/s in 1972, 60.5 m3/s in the following 1973, 65.3 m3/s in 1993, and 7.76 m3/s in 1996; there was no winter runoff in 60% of cases of the entire observation period.

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Atmosphere self-purification capacity map

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Self-purification capacity of the atmosphere

The self-purification capacity of the atmosphere (SCA) over the continental part of the Asian mainland is largely determined by a combination of the interaction of its general circulation with the underlying surface. Because of the influence of regional characteristics of orographic systems, such as an alternation of dissected depressions, large mountain ridges and narrow valleys, this area is characterized by the formation of seasonal local baric centers. In winters, these are the fields of increased pressure in valleys and intermontane depressions, united into the Asian anticyclone centered over the north of Mongolia, whereas regions of closed thermal depressions are typical of summers. In water-filled depressions (such as the Baikal hollow), because of the influence of the water masses, the local field of increased and decreased pressure is observed in summer and winter, respectively. The strength of local baric centers determines the processes of energy and mass exchange with neighboring territories.

Under anticyclone conditions, a standard decrease in air temperature with height (vertical gradient 0.65 °C/100 m) is distorted, and its rise is observed. The mean thickness of sustained winter inversions approximates the anticyclone height, and its largest maximum intensity in January over the even lands (4-5 °C) and over the mountain depressions significantly differ [Sevastyanov, 1998].

Over the narrow valleys of the Russian part of the Baikal basin (Krasnyi Chikoy) the formation of a stable inversion is registered from November, and in some years, from October to March. The inversion intensity is largest in January, and the temperature difference at the station’s level and the 850 mb surface reaches 10−11 °C. With an enhancement in ruggedness of relief, there is an increase in the thickness and recurrence frequency of the number of days with surface inversion [Zhadambaa, 1972; Beresneva, 2006]. Thus, the average and the largest thicknesses of inversions over Ulaanbaatar and over the depressions in Western Mongolia can differ by a factor of 1.5 to 2. The highest recurrence frequency of inversions (about 50%) is observed when its thickness ranges from 500 to 1000 m in the former case, and from 1500 to 2500 m in the latter case. In the latter case the temperature difference on its upper and lower boundaries can reach 15−20 °C. Also, the deepest inversions with their high recurrence frequency and the lowest temperatures in the ground layer of atmospheric air are observed in stagnant locations. Due to the formation of inversions most stable in the cold year season over the area under study the free air exchange in the atmospheric boundary layer is disturbed. In such a situation, the quality of the atmospheric air in the ground layer will, to a significant extent, depend on local conditions, namely the recurrence frequency of calms and weak wind velocities, the precipitation amount, and on the amount of incoming impurities.

The SCA was assessed following the technique reported by V.V. Kryuchkov [1979] in which it is assumed that almost no self-purification of the atmosphere occurs in the event of the mean annual wind velocity and the recurrence frequency of calms characterizing stagnant phenomena, and with the smallest precipitation amount (table). The SCA manifests itself with an enhancement in wind velocity, a decrease in recurrence frequency of calms, and with an increase in precipitation amounts.

In real situations, the indices show broader combinations. The use of the points-assessment approach makes it possible (by summing up the points of the indices) to take into account the diversity of the existing combinations of SCA: 3−4 points – extremely low, 5 – low, 6−7 – moderate, 8 – moderately high, and 9 – high   [Bashalkhanova et al., 2012]. With reference to the mountain territories, allowance was made for the known regularities inherent in changes of climatic indices depending on the location of orographic systems relative to the main transport of air masses. We assumed that with the slope steepness varying from 6 to 20° and the altitude of the location in the range 1500−2000 m, average conditions are created for the atmosphere’s self-purification. With an increase in slope steepness >20° and with altitudes >2000 m, the probability of a good SCA increases.

What has been outlined above was used in analyzing material reported in thus making it possible to identify in the study area four SCA levels. A moderately high SCA is characteristic for open steep-slope summit planes. A moderate SCA is intrinsic in elevated locations, slope surfaces, and in the shores of Lake Baikal and Lake Khovsgol. On the shores of Lake Baikal, however, Large temperature differences between land and lake contribute to a simultaneous development and superposition of the local forms of circulations, the maximal activity of which occurs in the zone below the height of the surrounding mountain ridges [Lake Baikal Atlas…,1993]. Therefore, here, despite sufficient wind activity (moderate SCA), the removal of pollutants beyond the depressions will be made difficult. A low SCA corresponds to gently rolling interfluves, river valleys, and to the lower parts of slopes. An extremely low SCA is set up in closed intermontane depressions and in the river valleys of the southwestern part of the basin nearby the anticyclone core, and along its periphery – in the areas of river valleys perpendicular to the base flow of air masses.

It should be noted that by taking into consideration the mesoclimatic differences, it is possible to obtain a more differentiated assessment of SCA. It is known that the deviations of the mesoclimatic characteristics from the background ones are most clearly expressed in the wind velocity, temperature and precipitation regimes. Wind velocity change coefficients in various terrain conditions may vary from 0.6 to 2.0 in comparison with the wind velocity at open even spaces [Romanova, 1977; Linevich, Sorokina, 1992], their minimal values are characteristic of the lower parts of slopes, while maximum values are characteristic of the upper parts of windward slopes and peaks. The mesoclimatic differences in moisture conditions are also closely connected with the position of the slopes toward the main air-mass transport, their steepness and character of the geological substate. An increase in the rainfall with the altitude increase and its significant differences on windward and downwind slopes are known.

Furthermore, the seasonal differences in SCA across the study territory will be substantial because of the characteristic features of the atmospheric circulation. Therefore, when planning the siting of production facilities in a particular territory, it is necessary to assess the mesoclimatic potential of SCA.


Lake Baikal Atlas. (1993). Moscow, 160 p.

Bashalkhanova, L.B., Veselova, V.N. and Korytny, L.M. (2012). Resource Dimension of Social Conditions for the Life of the Population of East Siberia, Novosibirsk: Geo, 221 p.

Beresneva, I.A. (2006).The Climates of the Arid Zone of Asia, Moscow: Nauka, 286 p.

Zhadambaa, Sh., (1972). The role of air temperature inversion in the enhancement process of the winter anticyclone over Asia, Trudy GMTs SSSR, issue 109, pp. 89−94

Sevastyanov, V.V., (1998). The Climate of the High Mountain Areas of Altai and Sayans, Tomsk: Izd-vo TGU, 202 p.

Romanova, E.N. The microclimatic variability of the main climatic elements, Leningrad: Gidrometeoizdat, 1977, 279 p.

Kryuchkov, V.V. (1979). The North, Nature and Man, Moscow: Nauka, 127 p.

Linevich, N.L., Sorokina, L.P. (1992). The climatic potential of self-purification of the atmosphere: an experience of multi-scale assessment // Geografiya i prirodnye resursy, # 4, pp. 160-165.

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Atmospheric air condition - Irkutsk_The isolines map

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Atmospheric air condition

The atmospheric air deterioration in populated areas continues to be the result of:

  1. Emissions from industrial enterprises:

- Due to the use of raw products with a high content of pollutants;

- Due to the substantial aging of equipment and/or absence of the waste treatment facilities;

- Due to breakdowns in technological processes, etc.

  1. Vehicle emissions:

- Due to the growing number of motor vehicles including old cars;

- Due to poor technical condition of vehicles;

- Due to numerous traffic jams [On the sanitary and epidemiologic situation…, 2012].

Emissions from industrial enterprises and vehicles have a very high concentration of various pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, dust, carbon oxide, nitrogen oxides, benzopyrene, methylmercaptan, and so on that enter the air basin from numerous sources. As a result of photochemical reactions with oxygen and hydrocarbons, these substances generate other pollutants. Therefore, the study of spatiotemporal volatility of air pollutants remains a topical issue. Moreover, it appears important to determine not only the way pollutants spread through the atmosphere around industrial centers, but also the way they distribute over reference areas, one of which being the Baikal basin.

The wind regime over the Baikal shores is composed of windblasts resulted from the macro-scale processes of general circulation and of local origin that include breezes, highland-valley circulation, and gravity windblasts. The basic large-scale windblast over the Baikal basin and its shores is the northwestern air-mass transport. However, under the influence of complex orographic conditions, some typical Baikal winds are also observed here. In the cold period of the year, off-shore winds along with a large-scale air transport are observed at the coast. In the warm period – onshore winds, which is common to seashores. This fact has an apparent impact on the spread of pollutants from industrial enterprises of Irkutsk oblast and the Republic of Buryatia.

Today, almost entire coastal territory of the lake is under a protected status aiming to preserve Lake Baikal and its surroundings. However, despite the existence of specially protected territories around the lake, industrial activity continues to negatively impact the lake’s environment.

The main economic specialization of the Baikal Region is determined by its considerable fuel-and-power and primary natural resources. This fact stipulated the development of energy-intensive industries – ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, mining, chemical, wood-processing, pulp and paper, and fuel and energy industries. Enterprises of the above-listed industries emit such common pollutants as dust, channel black, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, heavy metals, etc. Moreover, every production has its own specific list of pollutants.

Atmospheric pollution in the basin of Lake Baikal was assessed using a numerically simulated model based on analytical calculations of the differential equation of the transmission and eddy mixing of pollutants. The characteristics of the area of the atmosphere polluted from anthropogenic sources were evaluated. In addition, the critical concentration excess zones (MPC daily average), as well as the duration of such excess in hours per month were determined.

Inventory data on the parameters of the emission sources and long-term data of wind velocity and air temperature derived from daily weather observations conducted every 8 hours were used as input information for calculations to obtain statistically stable climatological characteristics.

The results demonstrate that the environmental situation in several settlements of the Baikal region does not meet the established standard (MPC daily average) for air quality. Furthermore, pollutants from industrial enterprises spread not only over the territory of the settlement, but go far beyond it.

In Irkutsk, there are approximately 250 industrial enterprises with over 3,000 stationary anthropogenic air pollution sources. They emit 113 different pollutants and cause a high level of pollution. It is proved by the fact that for the past 10 years Irkutsk has been regularly listed as a top-priority Russian city with the highest level of air pollution. The main production enterprises contributing to the increase of the concentration of harmful substances are JSC “Irkutskenergo” (contributes about 52.9% of pollutants), JSC “Baikalenergo”, and JSC “Irkut Corporation”. It should be noted that the energy sector is the leading industry in terms of air pollution emissions accounting for 82.7% of the total emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere of Irkutsk [Akhtimankina, 2013]. According to the results of calculations, almost the whole territory of the city is affected by the concentration of air pollutants exceeding the established hygienic standards and reaching maximum values in the vicinity of emission sources. Especially difficult situation takes place in winter months (Fig.1, 2).

The main stationary air pollution sources in Ulan-Ude are the city’s Central Heating and Power Plant (CHHP)-1 and CHPP-2, Locomotive Repair Plant, Aviation Plant, as well as construction and food processing companies and other enterprises [On the state of …, 2009] that have about 2,000 point-source and distributed pollution sources. The fuel-and-power complex of Ulan-Ude emits almost half of the total volume of the citywide pollution. Combustion gases from cogeneration and boiler plants and other power facilities travel long distances with the prevailing winds (about several kilometers) contributing to the regional environmental pollution. However, the most harmful emissions in Ulan-Ude are those that settle on the territory in the immediate vicinity of the pollution sources within the area of the so-called intensive technogenic pollution. This risk is further compounded by the fact that the majority of the fuel-and-power enterprises are located near the densely populated areas of the city (e.g. CHPP-1). Together with flue gases from power plants, a great number of solid and gaseous pollutants, such as refuse burnout, carbon oxide, and sulfur and nitrogen dioxides also get into the air basin (Fig. 3). Machine building enterprises emit dust, various acids and lye, nitriles and other compounds, phenol, methanol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, solvents vapors (toluene, xylol, paint thinner, benzene chloride, dichloroethane, spirits, acetates, etc.), ingredients of organic and inorganic fillers (salts and oxides of titanium, zinc, lead, chrome and other metals), as well as components of the film-forming agents (styrole, formaldehyde, etc.). Major contamination sources are galvanizing, paint, and foundry plants, galvanic and accumulator shops, repair workshops, etc [Imetkhenov, 2001]. The research has also demonstrated that the environmental situation in Ulan-Ude is unfavorable due to, on the one hand, the high level of technogenic stress, and, on the other, poor dissipative capacity of the atmosphere resulting in the long-lasting persistence of polluted air. The city’s location in an intermountain basin contributes to the accumulation of industrial emissions.

In Ulaanbaatar, there are 860 areal sources of pollution that mostly represent household ovens [Arguchintseva, 2011]. According to the results of calculations, the highest level of air pollution was registered in the areas of concentration of gers (traditional mobile homes) that make up the entire northern part of the city and stretch from the west to the east from the center of Ulaanbaatar. Another high-level air pollution zone is situated on the southwestern edge of the city near Buyant-Ukhaa Airport, where there is a ger village. Here, the wind direction and relief facilitate the transmission of emissions towards the airport (Fig. 4, 5). Air emissions from heating in the ger village lead to the continuous excess of maximum permissible concentrations of pollutants in the area of the airport. Combined with unfavorable meteorological conditions, this means that the airport can experience difficulties with take-off and landing operations for almost half a month, which leads to risks and considerable financial losses due to the idling of aircrafts.

These data demonstrate that many settlements in the Baikal basin, especially large ones, have an unfavorable environmental situation, which undoubtedly affects the health of local communities. The population continuously living in the conditions of atmospheric pollution experiences an overall deterioration of health and higher disease incidence especially affecting the respiratory system.



Akhtimankina, A. V., Arguchintseva, A. V. (2013). Air pollution from industrial plants of Irkutsk. The Bulletin of Irkutsk State University: Earth Sciences, 6(1), 3-19.

Arguchintseva, A. V., Arguchintsev, V. K., & Ariunsanaa, B-E. (2011). Distribution of pollutants in the atmosphere of Ulaanbaatar. The Bulletin of Irkutsk State University: Earth Sciences 4(2), 17-27.

Imetkhenov, A. B., Kulkov, A. I., & Atutov, A. A. (2001). Ecology, nature protection, and environmental management: Textbook for universities. Ulan-Ude: ESSTU Publishing. p 422.

Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights (Rospotrebnadzor). (2012). On the sanitary and epidemiologic situation in Irkutsk oblast in 2011: State report. Irkutsk. p 256.

Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. (2009). On the state of Lake Baikal and measures for its protection in 2008: State report. Irkutsk. p 455.

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