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The lake Baikal reluctantly reveals its secrets

Scientists from Russia, Germany, Switzerland and England are looking at the bottom of lake Baikal responses to questions about how life evolved and changed the climate of Central Asia millions of years ago. Using a special sampler researchers get samples of soil from the bottom of the biggest and purest lake on the planet and build the first conclusions and hypotheses.

With augers or chainsaw scientists know better than a professional fisherman. A few seconds and the surface begins to rise the purest Baikal water. The deepest lake on the planet researchers from Russia, Germany, Switzerland and England, as «our laboratory».

Using a special sampler and a conventional winch, the scientists take samples of soil from the bottom of lake Baikal, which today is the main subject of study. The sediments are a unique archive. According to experts, they can store the entire history of Central Asia. They cover everything from earthquakes to the smallest details of appearance and disappearance of species. Professor of Irkutsk state University Nikolay Budnev explains: «In bottom sediments can be found even pollen, which lived here thousands of years ago, and that pollen to determine what the plant was».

Bottom sediments of lake Baikal is huge, up to seven miles, the layer, which has accumulated over millions of years. Researchers from Russia, Switzerland and Germany are trying to understand, for example, how the climate was changing. Because it is changing still, and the lake itself every 50 years captures a meter coastal soils.

Every year Baikal attracts more and more attention of scientists from all over the world. Often they come at a time when under the feet — almost a meter layer of ice. To get it can be anywhere in the lake.

Another group of scientists these days are engaged in the study of Baikal water. The girl from the British University carefully sampled alternately from each layer. They record the temperature, chemical and biological composition and even illumination of the water. «We need all the data about the water in which dwells such a large number of living beings — from microorganisms to fresh-water seals. At home we usually work on small lakes, but here, of course, have very serious work», says the researcher from England: Susan Mcgowen. The water of lake Baikal has a unique feature. Despite a depth of one and a half miles, its saturation with oxygen is almost maximal.

The famous Swiss scientist sedimentologist Mike Storm comes on the lake for 15 years. During this time they received a lot of data, but so far, much still remains a mystery. «Baikal — like the ocean, only smaller. There’s a lot of interesting. Imagine: I am a small person amidst a huge lake, and to study it will take much time», says Professor Sturm.

Some of the specimens obtained at lake Baikal, the scientists will treat in Irkutsk. Later all samples they take home and will conduct a more detailed analysis.

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