Public: Water: Geography
Caspian Sea   (+3, -3)  [vote for, against]
Fill up the Caspian Basin

Dig a trench between the Caspian and Black seas. The former is currently 28m below sea level, and its basin will rapidly fill up with ocean water. A million or more people may have to be relocated, but then new port cities can be built with a direct link to international markets for oil and agriculture. The high evaportion rate will bring more fresh water raining onto the central Asian desert, increasing productivity. The coastline will be stable, improving transport, industrial, and tourist usage. World ocean levels will drop 4 cm, counteracting the effects of global warming, and giving current beachfront owners an incentive to fund the project.

The Caspian will become saltier, which may hurt fishing.

Alternate proposal: dig a somewhat shorter and shallower trench to redirect the Don River so it flows into the Volga/Caspian basin. This may not provide enough water to fill in the basin, but it will help some, and provide stability since the volume could be redirected into the Caspian or Black seas as desired.

One might consider connecting the Aral and Caspian seas as well; the distance is slightly further, but the elevation between the two lower. Unfortunately the Aral is about 40m above sea level now, and very shallow, so if we connect them the Aral will just drain into the Caspian. But maybe that's OK. We could give up on the Aral, direct its rivers into the Caspian, and have one good sea instead of two overly-salty ones.
-- scottinmn, Oct 05 2002

(?) Article about the consequences of mucking about with water. http://www.chambers...ine-Fish/flows.html
The USSR already tried tinkering with the waterflow to it's inland seas. The results are not encouraging. [DrBob, Oct 08 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

I followed up 'til the point of the 'counteracting global warming' part. Care to elaborate on how that mechanism works? Or do you mean that we just take in more water for the melting of the polar ice caps?

Since the Caspian is so low anyway, isn't it already relatively salty?

The other concern I'd have would be the Russian fishing / caviar industry, which comes substantially out of this region.
-- RayfordSteele, Oct 06 2002

Seems a bit complicated. Why don't we just lease them some amalgamated Great Lakes in a 5-year buyback for their Asiatic water holdings. Michigan could do with the land.
-- General Washington, Oct 06 2002

to paraphrase one of st3f's funniest lines - "so we will need more than one shovel then".
-- po, Oct 06 2002

Well, fishbone, because of relocating all those people.

But... I'm curious where/how you arrived at this number: // World ocean levels will drop 9-10 cm, //
-- waugsqueke, Oct 06 2002

Fishbone for all the dead fish.

Environmental vandalism on a grand scale. Chaotic equilibrium systems do not respond smoothly or predictably to this kind of jiggery pokery.

In the 1950s this was seriously proposed for inland Australia. A channel was to be dug - with nuclear charges no less - from Spencer Gulf on the southern coast to Lake Eyre - a dry salt lake well below sea level.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Oct 07 2002

Well, once all the fish bones are finished clanking I would like to direct attention back to the silver lining potential here. After the initial "Caspian Canal" project is completed, a stabalizing solution to thwart increased salinity and reduction in ocean levels would be to park Godzilla there. I'm talking about B-15 the incomprehensibly sized ice berg from Antarctic's Ross Ice Shelf. It would 'displace' a majority of the sea water preventing salinity concentrations and sea level drop, remove the monster from potential shipping lanes, provide automatic air conditioning to the region, for a length of time it would even provide access as an overpass for land transportation oh and it would provide that much more fresh water to the region. Geez. <frisbees croissant over newly begun ditch>
-- hollajam, Oct 07 2002

... until it melts, then we're back to square one again.
-- PeterSilly, Oct 07 2002

It's going to anyway...
By that time (years from now) engineers can build a restraining wall to trap the fresh water.
-- hollajam, Oct 07 2002

I miscalculated on the sea-level drop at first; now corrected to 4cm. The Caspian basin is something over 500,000 km sq., about 1/700 of the area of world oceans. 28m/700 = 4cm. Obviously this just counteracts one of the effects of global warming, not the trend itself or other side effects.

Surprisingly, the Caspian sea is only 1/3 as salty as the oceans. I don't know why this is. Connecting it to the oceans would hurt caviar fisheries, so I grant that's a downside.

I agree that we can't predict how the environment would react to this, but the drop in sea levels, stabilized shoreline for the Caspian, and new inland port access are sure things.

Bunsen: I wouldn't want to go nuclear with this. I actually read the early-70s US gov report on the idea of using nuclear charges to build an expanded sea-level Panama Canal. The commissioners did their duty of laying out the possible alternate routes and methods, but to their credit repeatedly stressed throughout the document that any form of this was a really really bad idea.
-- scottinmn, Oct 07 2002

// repeatedly stressed throughout the document that any form of this was a really really bad idea //

Did they give reasons why it was a bad idea, or did they just not like it ?
-- 8th of 7, Oct 07 2002

You both might enjoy a good read with Dan O'Neill's, "The Firecracker Boys"

The (US) atomic commission wanted to blow out a harbor on the west coast of Alaska back in the 50's. Dan, a wonderful researcher and long ago landlord of mine, goes on to describe the commissioners as, "Little boys with pathological glee", The "boys" refer to their project as "geographic engineering" and of nuking the ice pack to flood the deserts...

One can only imagine.
-- hollajam, Oct 07 2002

//did they give reasons why it was a bad idea//

Just the obvious ones: the necessary relocation of millions of people during the blasting period, the remaining radioactivity in the ground and underwater in a major shipping lane for centuries to come.
-- scottinmn, Oct 08 2002

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