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the institute of geography -70

Published “Hydrometeorological Atlas of the Caspian Sea” (2014) is a cartographic work, which presents the multi-faceted information and current knowledge on the Caspian Sea, collected over many years of research of the unique nature and resources of the sea.

The total volume of the atlas is 300 pages, with 353 thematic maps, scientific and encyclopedic texts, 29 tables, and other materials placed in seven sections. The paper presents a brief description of the new atlas. It is noted that on the content and the use of the results of latest research, the application of computer technology for mapping and design, this atlas differs by close interconnectedness of sections, coherency and unity of principles of construction and design of maps. The scientific and practical significance of the atlas has also been stressed.

    Cartographic Fund of Azerbaijan and of all the world have got a new fundamental work – “Hydrometeorological Atlas of the Caspian Sea”, developed at the Institute of geography named after academician H.Aliyev of NAS of Azerbaijan and prepared for print in publishing center “Nafta-Press” of the Institute of Geology.

     He took a special place among published atlases of Azerbaijan. Atlas is a scientific reference product in which systematized and processed many sided information and accumulated modern knowledge on the Caspian Sea, collected during many years of research by the author of the unique nature and resources of the sea. By the content and the use of the results of latest research, by the application of computer technology for mapping and design it stands out by close interconnectedness of sections, coherence and unity of principles of construction and design of maps. 

The project, structure and the content of the atlas have been developed by academician R.M.Mammadov, and the scientific editor is the academician A.A.Alizade. The structure of the Atlas contains seven sections; the total volume is 300 pages, where are located 353 original thematic maps accompanying scientific and encyclopedic texts in each section, 7 figures and 29 tables describing the meteorological characteristics of the Caspian Sea.                                              

 In the first section of the atlas Basics of designing of the atlas and the used materials are considered scientific and theoretical basis of the atlas, characterized by the used materials, given limited information on Hydrometeorology of the Caspian  Sea, observation points, duration of observation time, frequency measurements, etc.

     It is noted how is important the information on meteorological conditions of the Caspian Sea for the development of many sectors of the economy: designing and operation of installations for oil field offshore, ensuring of maritime navigation for rational planning of fisheries and of mariculture development, as well as for the protection of water and air environment of the sea. In the text of the first section the author emphasizes that today the development of the maritime economy requires the development of a fundamentally new and more perfect system of hydro meteorological support, as the traditional form does not satisfy the growing needs. In other words, there is a need to create new maps and atlases based on modern computer technology and programs with constantly updated information base.

          In the first part of the atlas are placed space image of the Caspian Sea, map-layout of hydrometeorological stations and a map of division of the sea on semi-degree squares with the corresponding average depth.

    Section Brief information about the Caspian Sea and geomorphological maps differs by geographical content: are given physical and geographical characteristics, geomorphological map of the Caspian Sea. In the text short by form, but quite large by content are listed all the basic physical parameters and geographical features of the sea, which vary depending on the level of the sea. The text of section is supplemented by tables with the characteristics of the physical parameters and small-scale map of the drainage basin of the Caspian Sea.

        The second section is full of various information and interesting quantitative data: the geographical coordinates of the extreme points of the sea; the shape of the sea is similar to the Latin letter S; average water depth is 208 m; the level of the Caspian Sea at the beginning of 2014 was equal to – 27.03 m; the volume of water is 44% of the total volume of lake water on Earth; sea catchment area is 3,1-3,5  mln. km2, which is 10% of the total area of closed basins of the world. And from north to south it stretches for 2,500 km, from west to east- 1000 km. The pool of internal drainage in whole or in part includes the territory of 8 countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Iran, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and Turkmenistan); more than 130 rivers empty into the Caspian Sea and no river flows out.

         According to the author, taking into account the climatic factor as the main in the change of Caspian Sea level, then it can be called climatic and environmental indicator of large parts of the planet Earth.

       In this section the geomorphological maps are presented with the bathymetric map, the main morphological structures tilt angles of the bottom and geomorphological map of the sea bottom and the coast of the Caspian Sea, which characterize in different aspects the underwater relief of the sea.

       Hydrology Section, one of the principal in the atlas (82 pages 129 maps) contents many maps of the Caspian Sea of hydrological significance: special maps of distribution of surface water temperature for all months and in different seasons; much space is devoted to surface waves, having a significant impact on the economic activities of man in the sea. There are maps of salinity, water transparency, flows formation, ice and other hydrological elements.                                    

    These maps are the result of averaging and analysis of long-term stationary and expeditionary observations, the results of experiments carried out on marine trestles and research ships. All these data were interpolated to 74 square with side of one degree, which covered the entire surface of the sea. According to these squares were determined monthly and annual values of the surface temperature. Then with the help of the program 

SURFER on the computer were built monthly and annual isotherm of surface water layer.

       Climatic conditions and meteorological variability of the Caspian Sea, temperature of the air over the sea, absolute and relative humidity, cloudiness, regime, wind speed and direction, radiation and albedo have been described in the section Meteorology (104 pages, 101 maps).

        Meteorological maps for the sea have been compiled on the basis of generalization (averaging) of observations over the last 40 years which were conducted from ships at one-degree squares. For the coastal zone were used materials of 24 hydro-meteorological stations (including materials of seven base stations used as the main). Numerous meteorological maps encompass various informations. They show some influence of the Caspian Sea on atmospheric processes and climate of the region. Comparative analysis of the maps suggests that the sea is a source of heat and moisture for the air masses passing over its surface (fig.5). The process of heating of air masses over the sea runs from September to March, reaching the highest value in December and January. As a result, near-surface layers of air receive heat and moisture. Convective clouds are formed. When heated the air, pressure above the sea decreases, which increases the inflow of cold air from the north and east. Above the sea often arise atmospheric fronts or “Caspian” cyclones.

      Another interesting phenomenon for users of the atlas may be a longer summer season in the Caspian Sea in comparison to other seasons (in the Northern and middle Caspian summer lasts 4- 4,5, and in the South Caspian- 5,5-6 months). Another interesting fact is reflected on the map of average air temperature in January (Map 4.2, p.111): the average January temperature over the South Caspian Sea does not fall below 5oC (due to the high heat capacity of water), that is, winter is practically absent.

         Maps of the section Interaction of the atmosphere and the sea represent a continuous exchange of heat and energy between the atmosphere and the sea. The warming influence of the sea affects an increase of the air temperature in the cold season, with the largest effect that occurs in December and January. The cooling influence of the sea on the air continues from April to August, which leads to a temperature inversion, prevent the formation of convection and convective clouds. So the spring and summer there is cloudless, sunny weather over the sea.

        This section provides monthly and annual thermal evaporation maps (5.1-5.13, p.212-224) from the surface of the Caspian Sea, heat exchange maps (5.14-5.26, p. 225-237) between the atmosphere and the sea, as well as maps of the heat balance and calorific value, which contain a rich information on a continuous  mutual influence of the atmosphere and the sea.

          The section Level of the Caspian Sea is devoted to the problem ofthesea levelfluctuation. Today we know that the most characteristic feature of the Caspian Sea is the impermanence of the level that varies in large amplitudes.

        As the author notes, the socio-economic development of the region largely depends on changes in natural conditions and, above all, from the Caspian Sea level fluctuations.

         In result of sea level rise by 2, 5 m in 1978-1995, the transgression caused great damage to the population and many sectors of the economy. Part of the settlements was flooded by sea, hundreds of families were forced to leave their homes and there were “environmental refugees”.    

      The economic damage caused to Azerbaijan is estimated at 2 billion dollars, flooded about 450 km2 of coastal area, many household objects were under water, and the rise of the ground water level has changed the local environmental conditions.

       Caspian Sea level changes are presented with a model scheme (p.272), and various graphs, representing the historical variability of sea level, the average annual level of the Caspian Sea on the lookout point (p.273), etc. Hydroclimatic and geological processes occurring in the basin of the Caspian Sea are considered as the main causes of sea level fluctuations. In recent years, human activities significantly affect sea levels (its share was 3-5%).

       The tables of the seventh section of the atlas show the data information base used in the development of the atlas. Each section begins by texts, which are an integral part of the atlas. They give a brief overview of the sources and materials used in the compiling of maps, explanation of features of mapped phenomena, reveal the basic scientific content of the topic, the technique of mapping.

         “Hydrometeorological Atlas of the Caspian Sea” is a complete systematic collection of 353 maps. During the preparation of the atlas was used basic information program SURFER-11. The present level of integration of information in the map compiling on the scientific level, corresponding large-scale range, wide range of colors provide high informativity and readability of the atlas. In addition to scientific-theoretical importance, the atlas is of great practical value: 1) as a tool for planning and forecasting on a scientific basis, 2) for the development of computer and atlas mapping in Azerbaijan, 3) to solve problems of rational use of marine resources, the development of the productive forces, etc. The atlas was originally prepared for use in various sectors of the economy – oil and gas production, transport, construction of hydraulic structures, as well as social and economic infrastructure.

         In general, “Hydrometeorological Atlas of the Caspian Sea” is a valuable contribution to the study of natural potential, features of the sea, application of modern information technologies in the creation of the atlas – all this raises the atlas mapping to the highest level.  


 E.K.Alizade, Sh.K.Azizov