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The General Information About the Caspian Sea

Paradoxically, this huge inland lake between Europe and Asia, thousands of kilometres from the World Ocean is called a sea, without an outlet, even as little as a single trickle, connecting it to any other body of water. The Caspian Sea, a unique closed water basin, plays an important role in the establishment of the climate in the region, has rich stocks of rare kinds of fish, energy-carriers and large potential for development of sea transport. The general characteristic is resulted in the table below.

General Geographical Characteristics of the Caspian Sea

Characte ristics Area Thous. m² Length km Coastal Line km Average Deep m Water Volume km³ Annual water flow by river km³
Quantity Volga (240) Kura+Samur+Yulak (21)  


On various estimations stocks of oil in the Caspian Sea makes about 20 billion tons. About 85% sturgeon fish and 95% of black caviar are produced in the Caspian Sea area. On the Caspian pool live or pass the winter about 10 million birds.

Ecological problems. Disturbing the ecological condition of the Caspian Sea, caused by its pollution by industrial, agricultural and municipal wastes, offshore and coastal production of oil and gas, shipping company and other circumstances, have caused degradation of its biodiversity, exhaust of fish resources, have increased fluctuations of the sea level. At the moment a situation even more embittered in connection with the beginning of intensive operation of sea oil deposits.

The ecological problems of the Caspian Sea can be divided into 3 types.

1) Chemical pollution by the running rivers. The number of the rivers flowing in the Caspian Sea reaches 130. Annually these rivers bring water with volume more than 300 cubic km. Only the River Volga brings in the Caspian Sea 80% of water, and not only water, but also all ecological problems of industrially developed regions of Russia. The Volga brings about 95% of chemical pollutants including thousands tons of oil, phenol, zinc and other metals.

The Kura and Araks rivers practically have all industrial drains of the countries of Southern Caucasus (though 70% of the population use the water of the Kura as drinking) and bring them into the Caspian Sea. The Terek has about 240 mln m³, and the Kura – 522 mln m³ of water drains.

From various branches of Azerbaijan economy about 500 mln m³ polluted waters are dumped, 300 mln m³ of them are dumped after clearing.

2) Ecological problems are connected with the rise of the water level. The water level of the Caspian rose 2.5 m during 1977-1998. About 17 villages of the southern regions of the country, some industrial objects of Baku-Apsheron region were flooded. The economic damage was about $4billion.

3) Offshore oil industry. The offshore oil industry in Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea have developed since 1949. As a result of oil production and transportation the level of oil pollution of the sea exceeded an allowable norm in some sites up to 20 times. Among the most oil polluted sites of the Caspian Sea are: the Baku Bay, Apsheron Archipelago, Turkmenbashi, Mangyshlak Islands.

Due to forthcoming rough exploration of the oil industry in the Caspian Sea it is possible to expect its more serious pollution.

Since 1994 Azerbaijan and other Caspian countries have signed a lot of international contracts with foreign oil companies. The oil sector in Turkmenistan only in 1999 made investments at about $4 billion. In the Russian sector of the sea Lukoil company has also begun its activity.

► Look at the following words from the text (1-10) and match them with their definitions (a-j).

1 stocks (n) a) to become worth
2 offshore (adj) b) one thousand million
3 embitter (v) c) impending, coming
4 biodiversity (n) d) hard
5 fluctuation (n) e) all the different types of plant and animal kingdom
6 dump (v) f) supplies
7 billion (n) g) changes in level
8 exceed (v) h) put down carelessly
9 forthcoming (adj) i) in the sea
10 rough (adj) j) to be greater than


7.10 Fill the appropriate word(s) from the text.

1 …….. basin 6 …….. damage

2 …….. potential 7 …….. allowable sites

3 …….. caviar 8 …….. sites

4 …….. wastes 9 …….. exploration

5 …….. level 10 …….. contracts


7.11 Fill in the words from the list below:

coastal / area / average / annual / waste / deposits / drain / clearing

1 Rich mineral …….. were discovered in the north of the country.

2 …….. student’s conference is held at Tyumen State University in April.

3 Sochi is a well-known …….. town.

4 A …….. is a system of pipes for waste water.

5 What is the …….. of your garden?

6 The river water can be used only after …….. .

7 The …….. rainfall in July was not high because of hot summer.

8 A lot of house-hold …….. can be recycled.


7.12 Are these statements correct or incorrect?

1 Ecological problems of the Caspian Sea are: chemical pollution by rivers, waste waters and oil products, rising water level.

2 Two countries develop exploration of the oil industry in the Caspian Sea.

3 The main polluting components of the sea environment are petroleum products.

4 Beaches should be closed due to excessive sea water pollution.

5 Disturbing the ecological condition of the Caspian Sea causes exhaust of fish resources.

6 The Caspian is a huge inland lake between Europe and Asia, although it is called a sea.

7 Biodiversity degrades very quickly.

8 Many villages and industrial enterprises are flooded because of chemical pollutants.


7.13 Find the odd word out.

1 general geographical ecological unique

2 bird fish animal plant

3 pool river water sea

4 degradation condition development exploration

5 length depth flow volume

6 flood damage embitter invest


7.14 Find the map of the region where the Caspian Sea is located. Point all the geographical names mentioned in the text on the map.


7.15 Look at the text “The Caspian Sea” again and correspond the facts with the numbers: 7,000 / 240 / 95% / 130 / 70% / 500 mln / 2.5


7.16 Read the text “Ecological Conditions of the Black Sea” and choose the correct answer.


The main polluting (1)…….. of the sea environment are petroleum products. A constant level of the petroleum content in the sea water is (2) …….. by the operations of industrial enterprises, ports, discharges of waste during bunkering, and by sewage discharged by municipal services into the rivers (3) …….. into the sea. Many ports of Ukraine experience a slightly increased concentration of petroleum products. Thus, water samples taken in many points around the ports show a content of petroleum products (4) …….. the permissible pollution level or even exceeding it.

In the last few years the most ecologically (5) …….. zone of Ukraine in terms of sea pollution with petroleum products has been the Sevastopol bays. In many cities the municipal (6) …….. systems are in critical condition which causes the release of large amounts of unpurified sewage into the coastal waters. (7) …….. recent years no beaches have been closed due to excessive sea water pollution by chemical agents, however, in several instances beaches have been closed in Odessa, Eupatoria because of (8) …….. contamination. In some areas the petroleum product concentration (9) …….. the maximum by two to three times, namely in the Danube estuary. The level of contamination of the sea water with cadmium, lead, zinc, brass, nickel chromium and mercury is four times as high as the maximum permissible (10) …….. .

1 a) parts b) components c) ingredients

2 a) caused b) polluted c) contaminated

3 a) going b) moving c) flowing

4 a) reaching b) cleaning c) consuming

5 a) safe b) high c) dangerous

6 a) litter b) sewage c) garbage

7 a) For b) During c) In

8 a) sanitary b) epidemiological c) healthy

9 a) shows b) rises c) exceeds

10 a) level b) surface c) value

Model: 1 – b (components)


7.17 Match the two parts of the sentences.

1 The Volga-Caspian Basin ecosystem cannot resist giant industry enterprises a) may lead to a water shortage in the nearest future.
2 Resources of river, lake and underground fresh waters b) therefore, their rational use helps to compensate for moisture shortages.
3 A sharp increase in water consumption on the planet c) without treating it at all.
4 Supplies of underground wastes are considerable, d) is the greatest in Asia and South America.
5 The oceans of the world form one vast ecosystem e) which are scattered about the river and its tributaries.
6 The underwater landscape is just as varied as that on land, f) are distributed very unevenly on the continents.
7 The annual fresh water discharge into the ocean g) and the most beautiful is the tropical coral reefs.
8 Many cities discharge their sewage into the sea h) covering 70% of the planet surface.


7.18 Read the text and answer the questions after it.

During last centuries mankind has been developing very aggressively and has reached tremendous achievements in all fields. Unfortunately it has achieved great success in polluting its environment too. Currently, humanity has plenty of global environmental problems: deforestation, freshwater contamination, destruction of the ozone layer, pollution of space, etc. Desiccation of the Aral Sea is one of the items on the list. The Aral Sea is still considered to be the fourth largest lake in the world but it has been shrinking for decades. In comparison with the size of the sea in the 1960s, it has declined in size by 76%. The initial reason for the Aral’s decline is the fact that Soviet planners diverted water from the Aral’s two big feeding rivers (the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya) into cotton fields on the territory of Uzbekistan. Because of this irrigation, the sea is now seventy miles away from its former bank (in some places even more). Ninety percent of the Syr Darya’s water is diverted into canals and reservoirs.

Along the former shoreline salt has accumulated due to evaporation and solonchaks have developed. As a result of the strong NE winds in this area, the salt is picked up and transported by aeolic processes and through deflation lands on the irrigated fields in the south. In addition the north of the Amu Darya delta used to be an important ecosystem with a large variety of flora and fauna. The increasing salinity and the water shortage have led to a vast degradation of these areas.

The discharge of salt is also decreasing the agriculturally useable area, destroying pastures and creating a consequent shortage of forage for domestic animals. Deserted and sandy areas are being extended by the impact of wind. Further desertification is taking place, increasing the dust and toxicity content in the air.

► 1 How do you pronounce: useable, fauna, reservoir, desiccation, salinity?

2 What does desiccation mean?

3 Match the synonyms:

tremendous empty

currently very big

deserted nowadays

4 What syllable is stressed in canal?

5 What is the opposite to shrink?

6 What is the difference between sea, lake, reservoir?

7 How many years does decade cover?

8 Explain the difference and similarity between bank, shore and coast.

9 Does salinity mean much salt or little salt?


7.19 Read the text again and give a three sentence summary of it.


7.20 Read the text below and be ready to check your understanding.

The ocean itself plays a vital role in the earth’s water cycle. Its huge surface area allows vast quantities of water to evaporate into the atmosphere. The water then condenses to form clouds.

For thousands of years, man has harvested fish from the seas as a valuable food source. Today the global catch plays a vital part in feeding the world’s growing population.

Over-fishing by large modern fishing fleets now threatens the livelihoods of traditional fishermen throughout the world. This has caused stocks of many fish species to become dangerously low. It is now vital that we have more international cooperation to sustain fish harvests.

Some of the largest creatures of the oceans actually feed on the smallest. Baleen whales, like the Blue whale which grows up to 30m long, exist solely on a diet of zooplankton.

Dead matter sinks to the ocean floor where it is either eaten by bottom dwellers (in shallower areas), like crabs and sea anemones, or it decays, producing minerals. Some form new rock, the rest are circulated by currents and taken in by plants.

The average depth of the ocean is 3,700 m, though parts are much deeper. Even the darkest depths are not devoid of life, however – thousands of weird and wonderful creatures have adapted to life in near total darkness.


► 1 What paragraph gives the information about:

a) fishing? b) water cycles? c) ocean depths? d) the largest ocean fish?

2 Look at the first paragraph and say whether evaporate and condense are synonyms or antonyms.

3 Look at the second paragraph and say which words have the same meaning as: important, increasing.

4 Look at the third paragraph and explain the word over-fishing.

5 Look at paragraphs 4 and 5 and say whether these statements correct or incorrect.

a) Whales eat fish.

b) Whales are the largest creatures of the ocean.

c) Crabs eat everything including dead matters.

d) Sea anemones produce minerals.

6 Look at paragraph 6 and answer the question: What weird (strange) and wonderful species live in the darkest depth?

7 How often do you eat fish? They are very good for you: high in protein and low in fat. Find out what sorts are available in your area, and where they come from. Have any become rarer or more expensive?


7.21 The Ganges, in India, is a sacred river to the Hindus, but it is severely polluted. Why? Read the text and answer the question.


The Ganges is one of the earth’s longest and most polluted rivers. It descends from the Himalayas and flows some 25000 km across India before it runs into the Bay of Bengal.

It poses a unique dilemma for environmentalists. Every year, Hindus dump more than 45000 bodies in the Ganges, first inserting a red-hot coal into the mouth of each corpse before casting it adrift. No sane ecologist would ever dare to prevent this. Hindus believe that the Ganges can free the dying from the cycle of rebirth, so in many river cities, such as Varanasi, Calcutta and Allahabad, ashes from the cremation pyres are sprinkled into the river. Dead babies, lepers, suicides, people killed by snakebites and sages are also given a river burial. Sometimes in Varanasi the body-burners scrimp on wood for the pyre and simply toss the half-charred remains into the river, just upstream from where thousands of Hindus bathe every day.

The main pollutants, however, are not dead bodies but the waste spewed into the Ganges from hundreds of factories, tanneries, petro-chemical plants, paper mills and sugar refineries along its banks. The Ganges provides water for more than 250 million people living in the flat, hot Gangetic plains. It irrigates their crops and quenches their spiritual thirst. At its source, in the Himalayan glaciers above Gangotri, it is a fast shining-white stream. By the time it reaches Patna, the Ganges has widened to six miles and begins to divide itself into a delta before reaching the ocean. At one time there were freshwater dolphins, giant 6-metre crocodiles, turtles and more than 265 species of fish living in the Ganges. Six years ago environmentalists calculated that 1000 million litres of waste water a day were pouring into the Ganges. If left unchecked, the sacred river would die.

(Adapted from The Independent on Sunday, 9 August 1994)


7.22 Write the review of the text below.


The Mississippi meaning “Great River” or “Father of Waters” is one of the world’s largest rivers. Its source is in the north central part of Minnesota, where it issues as a small stream from Elk Lake. It passes through Lake Itasca and a number of others and thence has a general course toward the south until it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The entire length of the Mississippi is ca. 2,330 m, while the Missouri River has a length of 2,365 m before reaching the Mississippi; thus the combined length of the two rivers is close to 5,000 m. The whole area drained by the Mississippi system is 1,257,000 square metres. It constitutes one of the most fertile and valuable regions in the world. At Minneapolis are the Falls of St. Antony, which furnish immense water power; and here, as elsewhere, navigation is obstructed, but in many places vast improvements have been made by canals and levels, the latter being maintained to protect portions of the valley from flooding during high water. The regions subject to overflow are situated south of St. Louis, where the river becomes a vast system of rapidly moving water and carries large quantity of sediment to the Gulf. Among the principal eastern tributaries are the Wisconsin, the Illinois, the Ohio, and the Yazoo. The western confluents include the Minnesota, the Des Moines, the Missouri, the Arkansas, and the Red rivers.

At its source the Mississippi is only a few feet wide, but at the mouth of the Ohio it is 4,470 ft and at New Orleans it is 2,500 ft while the maximum volume of water per second during a flood is estimated at 1,500,000 ft. The sediment transported annually is sufficient to cove a square mile to the height of 250 ft. In the upper course the water is clear and transparent, but it gradually grows dark with silt, which it deposits. During the past ages it has carried the land surface far into the Gulf and formed a large number of bayous and islands. The government of the US has had jetties constructed to protect the channel for the passage of vessels.

The Mississippi River and its tributaries furnish about 16,090 m of navigable waters, which make possible a vast inland commerce by steamship. Numerous canals connect the various rivers and lakes near them, one of the most important being the connection of Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Among the important cities on the Mississippi River are St. Paul and Minneapolis, Davenport, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.

(Keating, Bern. The Mighty Mississippi. National Geographic Society, 1971)


7.23 Project Work. Choose some aspect of water which especially concerns the local community (pollution, waste, flood, drinking water). If you take the last point, you may discuss the following items:

● Is the drinking water clean?

● If the water is polluted, what is it caused by?

● How can pollution be prevented?

● What can people do locally?

● Are there rules or laws?

● What is each person’s responsibility?

● What should the government do?


Date: 2014-12-22; view: 1938

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