South Caspian vertical circulation during rapid sea level rise and fall

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science, Tehran, Iran

2 School of Civil Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran


The Caspian Sea as the largest land-locked water body is very sensitive to the environmental changes. The rise and fall of the Caspian Sea level has significant impact on the environment and coastal communities. Using extensive deep water measurements in the south Caspian Sea, we have examined the role of sea level changes on the vertical water exchange.  While the deep water ventilation happened during sea level fall (70s of 20 century), coastal lagoon expansion and marine stagnant circulation state were the major impacts during rapid sea level rise (1980-1995). The marine environment however benefits the rapid sea level fall.  During sea level fall, vertical circulation penetrates deeper and faster which distributes oxygen and nutrient more effectively in the water column. It provides the condition for enhanced bio-productivity. However, the current global warming could prevent the impact of lowstand to faster circulation. The present rapid sea level fall displays new impacts on the marine environment, reflecting as hypoxia.


Arpe, K, Leroy, SAG, Lahijani, H & Khan, V 2012, Impact of the European Russia drought in 2010 on the Caspian Sea level. Hydrology and Earth System Science Discuss, 8: 7781-7803.
De Mora, SJ, Turner, T 2004, The Caspian Sea: a microcosm for environmental science and international cooperation, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 48: 26-29.
Frolov, AV 2003, Modeling of the long-term fluctuations of the Caspian Sea level, theory and applications. Moscow, GEOS, 172 p.
Ghaffari, P, Lahijani, H & Azizpour, J 2010, Snapshot observation of the physical structure and stratification in deep-water of the South Caspian Sea (western part), Ocean Science, 6: 877-885.
Ibrayev, R, Özsoy, E, Svhrum, C & Sur, H 2010, Seasonal variability of the Caspian Sea three-dimensional circulation, sea level and air-sea interaction, Ocean Science, 6: 311-329.
IPCC, Climate Change 2013, The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, TF, Stocker,  D, Qin, G, K, Plattner, M, Tignor, SK, Allen, J, Boschung, A, Nauels, Y, Xia, V, Bex and PM, Midgley (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 p.
IPCC, Climate Change 2014, Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: Global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of working group II to the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CB, Field, VR, Barros, DJ, Dokken, KJ, Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, TE, Bilir, M, Chatterjee, KL, Ebi, YO, Estrada, RC, Genova, B, Girma, ES, Kissel, AN Levy, S, MacCracken, PR, Mastrandrea, and LL, White (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1132 p.
Kosarev, A 1975, Hydrology of the Caspian and Aral seas. Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, 372 p.
Kostianoy, A, Kosarev, A 2005, The Caspian Sea environment. Springer, 271 p.
Kroonenberg, S, Badyukova, E, Storms, J, Ignatov, E & Kasimov, N 2000, A full sea-level cycle in 65 years: barrier dynamics along Caspian shores. Sedimentary Geology, 134: 257-274.
Lahijani, H, Leroy, S, Naderi Beni, M & Arpe, K 2010, Blaze in Volga: It is a critical point for the fall in Caspian Sea level.  Episodes, 33: 208.
Lahijani, H, Tavakoli, V & Amini, AH 2008, South Caspian Sea river mouth configuration under human impact and sea level fluctuations. Environmental Sciences, 5: 65-86.
Naderi Beni, A, Lahijani, H, Harami, RM, Arpe, K, Leroy, SAG, Marriner, N, Berberian, M, Andrieu-Ponel, V, Djamali, M, Mahboubi, A & Reimer, PJ, 2013, Caspian Sea-level changes during the last millennium: Historical and geological evidence from the south Caspian Sea, Climate of the Past, 9: 1645-1665.
Naderi Beni, A, Lahijani, H, Moussavi Harami, R, Leroy, SAG, Shah-Hosseini, M, Kabiri, K & Tavakoli, V 2013, Development of spit-lagoon complexes in response to Little Ice Age rapid sea-level changes in the central Guilan coast, South Caspian Sea, Iran. Geomorphology, 187: 11-26.
Rychagov, GL 1997, Holocene oscillations of the Caspian Sea, and forecasts on palaeogeographical reconstructions. Quaternary Internation, 41-42: 167-172.
Saleh, A, Hamzehpour, A,  Mehdinia, A, Bastami, K & Mazaheri, S 2018, Hydrochemistry and nutrient distribution in southern deep-water basin of the Caspian Sea, Marine pollution bulletin, 127: 406-411
Sapozhnikov, VV, Mordasova, NV & Metreveli, MP 2010, Transformations in the Caspian Sea ecosystem under the fall and rise of the sea level, Oceanology, 50: 488-497.
Terziev, SF 1992, Hydrometeorology and hydrochemistry of seas. Vol. 6, the Caspian Sea, No 1. Hydro-meteorological conditions, Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, Russia, 360 p.
Terziev, SF, Maksimova, PM & Yablonskaya, EA 1996, Hydrometeorology and hydrochemistry of seas. Vol. VI, the Caspian Sea, No. 2, Hydro-chemical Conditions and oceanological principles in the formation of Bio-productivity, Gidrometeoizdat, Saint Peter Burg, Russia, 322 p.
Tuzhilkin, VS, Katunin, DN, Nalbandov & Yu, R 2005, Natural chemistry of Caspian Sea waters. In: A, Kostianoy & A, Kosarev (eds.) The Caspian Sea environment. Springer, 271 p.
Voropaev GV 1986. The Caspian Sea: Hydrology and hydrochemistry.  Moscow, Nauka, Russia, 262 p.
Varushenko, SI, Varushenko, AN & Klige, RK 1987, Changing of the Caspian Sea regime and enclosed basins in geological time. Moscow, Nauka, Russia, 240 p.