Ice Cover and Associated Water Structure in Lakes Baikal and Hovsgol from Satellite Observations and Field Studies

  • Alexei V. KouraevEmail author
  • Elena A. Zakharova
  • Frédérique Rémy
  • Andrey G. Kostianoy
  • Michail N. Shimaraev
  • Nicholas M. J. Hall
  • Andrey Ya. Suknev


Lakes Baikal (Russia) and Hovsgol (Mongolia) are covered every year by ice for several months. The distribution and state of the ice cover and snow on the ice affect the hydrophysical structure, spring bloom of diatoms and primary productivity, as well as transport on ice. In this respect combination of satellite remote sensing data with dedicated field measurements provide a unique tool for investigating ice cover state and development. Comparison of ENVISAT and SARAL radar altimetry missions data for Lake Baikal shows that SARAL’s AltiKa instrument can be successfully used for ice discrimination. We observe large decrease of radar return echo in late spring for both ENVISAT and SARAL and discuss it in the context of ice metamorphism. We then address an interesting natural phenomenon—giant ice rings on lakes Baikal and Hovsgol. Using satellite imagery and photography for 1974–2015 we have identified 45 rings on Lake Baikal (compared to 13 previously known) and also for the first time 4 rings on Lake Hovsgol. The results of our hydrographic surveys beneath the ice rings show the presence of warm double-convex lens-like eddies before and during manifestation of ice rings. These eddies are the driving factor for the formation of ice rings in these lakes. We reassess the existing hypotheses of ice ring formation and discuss the potential mechanisms of eddy formation.


Lake Baikal Lake Hovsgol Ice cover Satellite remote sensing Radar altimetry Giant ice rings Lens-like eddies Water structure 



This research is supported by the ERA.NET RUS Plus S&T #226 “ERALECC”, CNES TOSCA “Lakes” and “LakeIce”, CNRS PICS “BaLaLaICA”, RFBR 13-05-91051, IDEX Transversalité 2013 InHERA and by GDRI “CAR-WET-SIB” projects. A.G. Kostianoy was partially supported in the framework of the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS budgetary financing (Project N 149-2018-0003). We would like to thank A. Beketov (Ust’ Barguzin, Russia), T. Tivikova (Turka, Russia), S. Sushkeev (Tunka, Russia), Hurga and Byamba (Hovsgol National Park, Mongolia), A. Laletin and many others who participated directly or helped to organise field surveys.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexei V. Kouraev
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Elena A. Zakharova
    • 3
  • Frédérique Rémy
    • 1
  • Andrey G. Kostianoy
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Michail N. Shimaraev
    • 7
  • Nicholas M. J. Hall
    • 1
  • Andrey Ya. Suknev
    • 8
  1. 1.LEGOS, Université de Toulouse, CNES, CNRS, IRD, UPSToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Tomsk State UniversityTomskRussia
  3. 3.Institute of Water Problems RASMoscowRussia
  4. 4.P.P. Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  5. 5.S. Yu. Witte Moscow UniversityMoscowRussia
  6. 6.Interfacultary Center for Marine Research (MARE) and Modelling for Aquatic Systems (MAST)University of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  7. 7.Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of SciencesIrkutskRussia
  8. 8.Great Baikal Trail (GBT) BuryatiyaUlan-UdeRussia

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