The Volga River Delta in the Caspian Sea – April 19th, 2009
The Volga Delta is the largest inland river delta in Europe, and occurs where Europe’s largest river system, the Volga River, drains into the Caspian Sea in Russia’s Astrakhan Oblast, north-east of the republic of Kalmykia. Although some clouds partially obstruct the view of the area, the delta is visible on the northwestern shores.
The Volga Delta has grown significantly in the past century because of changes in the level of the Caspian Sea. However, in recent years industrial and agricultural modification to the delta plain has resulted in significant wetland loss.
Between 1984 and 2001, the delta lost 277 km² of wetlands, or an average of approximately 16 km² per year, from natural and human-induced causes.
The Volga discharges large amounts of industrial waste and sediment into the relatively shallow northern part of the Caspian Sea. The added fertilizers nourish the algal blooms that grow on the surface of the sea, allowing them to grow larger.
This algae is responsible for the green color of the water immediately around the delta, and may also be contributing to the green color present in the rest of the sea’s northern section.