Influence of climate change on the ice regime of the Caspian Sea

Natalya Ivkina1*, Zhanar Naurozbayeva1, Bjørn Kløve2

1Republican State-owned Enterprise “Kazhydromet”, Scientific-Research Center, Caspian Sea hydrometeorological research department, Republic of Kazakhstan

2Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, Finland

*Corresponding author:

Scientific Article


Ice occurs in the Caspian Sea and its northern part influencing traffic, ports and the coastal region at large. Especially, heavy winds leading to massive ice jams considerably effect the socioeconomic use of the sea. In recent decades, the Caspian Sea is affected by reduced water inflow from the major rivers and changes in climate, but these changes are not well documented or known. To better understand ice conditions, winter regimes and climate change impact, this article analyzes the cold periods from 1980 to 2016, in the northern part of the Caspian Sea and connects ice conditions to climatic characteristics. Winters are classified using the P.I. Buharits in classification from sever to mild. The authors analysed changes in air temperature as of the main indicator of climate change, and a potential ice regime shift. The results show an annual warming of 1,1 0Cand 1,3 0Cfor the cold period since 1990. Winter severity, which is closely linked to ice thickness has clearly decreased since the cold winters in 1950’s and 1960’s. Milder winters have changed ice conditions in the northernmost part of the Caspian Sea. A detailed analysis of mild and cold winters show a clear difference in ice depth, with thickness about 58 cm and 20 cm, respectively.

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Caspian Sea, ice regime, ice thickness, temperature anomalies, winter climate classification