Algal Growth Near Volga River Delta, Caspian Sea45.9N 49.9E
The Volga Delta is the largest 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. The delta is located in the Caspian Depression—the far eastern part of the delta lies in Kazakhstan. The delta drains into the Caspian approximately 60 km downstream from the city of Astrakhan.
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, clearly visible in the upper half of this image, allowing them to grow larger.