The Wetland Book pp 1439-1450 | Cite as

Lena River Basin (Russia)

  • Victor Degtyarev
Reference work entry


The Lena is one of the world’s largest rivers, distinguished for its length (4,400 km), catchment area (2,500,000 km2), and delta (32,000 km2). It is located in northern Asia, belongs to the Arctic Ocean basin, and flows into the Laptev Sea. The annual water discharge fluctuates from 417 to 631 km3, sediment runoff averages 12,000,000 tonnes annually. Orographic barriers in combination with the geographic location minimize oceanic influence on the basin and promote maximal cooling of the surface atmosphere layer of Eurasia. Permafrost and cryogenic effects are the most significant factors determining annual fluctuations in water discharge and wetland composition and distribution. This watered frozen layer on sedimentary areas produces and maintains lakes as a result of thermokarst. Especially, these effects are a significant factor in areas that experience a negative moisture budget. Taiga is the dominant biome as the basin narrows sharply toward the subarctic zone, while tundra is confined within the delta area. Owing to orographic heterogeneity and the extreme continental nature of the climate, unique landscapes occur. The Lena has an influence on Arctic Ocean ecosystem functioning and the global greenhouse gas budget, and supports a significant proportion of fish species, including stocks of the Siberian sturgeon and salmonid species. Its basin, as a vast territory covered by light coniferous taiga, is a key area of this biome in northern Asia. Negative influences intensified since the 1950s–1960s with a wave of mineral resource development, increased availability of motorboats, and fishing with kapron nets which increased the take of fish and hunting takes.The of the basin environment is still relatively stable but this is due to the large pristine areas that still remain. The 2000s coincided with a new wave of industrial and large-scale development that incorporated special transportation, fishing, and hunting technology. This development threatens primarily pristine areas with their game animal and fish resources. In this respect, the protected areas are of great importance. In 2012, the Lena Pillars National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List.


Alas Cryolithozone Endangered species Permafrost Siberia Unique climatic conditions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Siberian Division of Russian Academy of SciencesInstitute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of SciencesYakutskRussia

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