West Siberian Plain
The "West Siberian Plain" ( _ru. За́падно-Сиби́рская равни́на) is a large
plainthat occupies the western portion of Siberiaand Russia, between the Ural Mountainsin the west and the Yenisei Riverin the east, and by the Eastern Sayan Mountainsand the Baikal Mountainson the south. It has been described as the world's largest unbroken lowland—more than 50 percent is less than 330 feet (101 m) above sea level [cite web
accessdate=2006-10-24 ] —and covers an area of about 2.6–2.7 million km² which is about one third of Siberia,cite web
title=Western Siberian Plain
accessdate=2006-10-24 ] extending from north to south for 2,400 km, from the
Arctic Oceanto the foothills of the Altay Mountains, and from west to east for 1,900 km from the Yenisei Riverto the Ural Mountains. The plain has eight distinct vegetation regions: tundra, forest-tundra, northern taiga, middle taiga, southern taiga, sub-taiga forest, forest-steppe, and steppe. The number of animal species in the West Siberian Plain ranges from at least 107 in the tundra to 278 or more in the forest-steppe region.
Winters on the West Siberian Plain are harsh and long. The climate of most of the plains is either subarctic or continental. Two of the larger cities on the plain are
The West Siberian Plain consists mostly of
Cenozoic alluvial depositsand is extraordinarily flat. A rise of fifty metres in sea levelwould cause all land between the Arctic Oceanand Novosibirskto be inundated (see also Turgai Straits, West Siberian Glacial Lake). Many of the deposits on this plain result from ice dams; having reversed the flow of the Ob and YeniseiRivers, redirecting them into the Caspian Sea, and perhaps the Aral Seaas well. It is very swampy and soils are mostly peaty Histosols and, in the treeless northern part, Histels.
It is one of the world's largest areas of peatlands, which are characterized by raised bogs. It is believed that the world’s largest single raised bog is at Vasuganskoe, covering approximately 51,600 km².
In the south of the plain, where
permafrostis largely absent, rich grasslands that are an extension of the Kazakh Steppeformed the original vegetation (almost all cleared now).
Large regions of the plains are flooded in the spring, and
marshlands make much of the area unsuitable for agriculture. The principal rivers in the West Siberian Plain are the Ob, Irtysh, and Yenisei. There are many lakes and swamps, as well as large petroleumand natural gasreserves. Most of the Russia's oil and gas production was extracted from this area during the 1970s and 80s.
East European Plain, the other major plain of Russia
* [http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17142 West Siberian Plain]
* [http://countrystudies.us/russia/23.htm Topography and Drainage of Russia]
* [http://www.ipcc.ie/wpsiberia.html Peatlands of the Worls: Russia — Siberia]
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