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Ob River, river of central Russia. One of the biggest rivers of Asia, the Ob flows north and west throughout western Siberia in a twisting diagonal line from its sources in the Altai mountains to its outlet through the Gulf the Ob into the Kara Sea that the Arctic Ocean. It is a major transportation artery, crossing territory at the love of Russia that is extraordinarily varied in its physical environment and also population. Even permitting for the barrenness of much of the region surrounding the reduced course the the river and also the ice-clogged waters into which the discharges, the Ob drains a region of an excellent economic potential.


The Ob and Yenisey river basins and their drainage networks.
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The Ob proper is created by the junction of the Biya and Katun rivers, in the foothills of the Siberian ar of the Altai, indigenous which it has a food of 2,268 mile (3,650 km). If, however, the Irtysh river is related to as part of the main course rather than together the Ob’s significant tributary, the best length, from the source of the black (Chorny) Irtysh in China’s ar of the Altai, is 3,362 mile (5,410 km), make the Ob the saturday longest river in the world. The catchment area is roughly 1,150,000 square mile (2,975,000 square km). Constituting about half of the drainage basin of the Kara Sea, the Ob’s catchment area is the sixth biggest in the world.

Physical features


The West Siberian plain covers about 85 percent of the Ob basin. The remainder of the container comprises the terraced levels of Turgay (Kazakhstan) and the little hills the northernmost Kazakhstan in the south and the Kuznetsk Alatau range, the Salair Ridge, the Altai Mountains and their foothills and also outliers in the southeast.

There are more than 1,900 rivers within the basin, v an accumulation length of about 112,000 miles (180,000 km). The Irtysh, a left-bank tributary 2,640 mile (4,250 km) long, chin drains around 615,000 square mile (1,593,000 square km; a somewhat bigger area 보다 that drained by the upper and also middle Ob over the Irtysh confluence); and some 70 percent that the whole basin is drained through left-bank tributaries.

The large basin of the Ob stretches across a variety of natural zones. Semidesert prevails in the far south roughly Lake Zaysan (recipient the the black Irtysh and resource of the Irtysh proper), bordered on the phibìc by steppe grassland. The main regions that the West Siberian Plain—i.e., much more than half of the basin—consist that taiga (swampy coniferous forest), with good expanses the marshland. In the north over there are large stretches the tundra (low-lying, cold-tolerant vegetation).

The upper Ob runs from the junction of the Biya and Katun come the confluence the the Tom River, the center Ob native the junction through the Tom come the Irtysh confluence, and also the reduced Ob from the junction through the Irtysh to the Gulf of Ob.

The Biya and also the Katun both increase in the Altai Mountains: the former in Lake Telets, the latter to the south among the glaciers of mount Belukha. From your junction near Biysk the upper Ob at an initial flows westward, receiving the Peschanaya, Anuy, and Charysh rivers native the left; in this reach, the river has low financial institutions of alluvium, a bed studded with islands and also shoals, and an median gradient that 1 foot per mile (20 centimeter per km). Native the Charysh confluence the top Ob flows northward ~ above its way to Barnaul, receiving another left-bank tributary, the Aley River, and also widening the floodplain as the valley widens. Transforming westward again at Barnaul, the flow receives a right-bank tributary, the Chumysh River, indigenous the Salair Ridge. The valley there is 3 come 6 miles (5 to 10 km) wide, through steeper ground on the left than on the right; the floodplain is extensive and characterized by diversionary branches of the river and by lakes; the bed is still full of shoals; and the gradient is reduced, however the depth boosts markedly. At Kamen-na-Obi, however, wherein the river begins to bend northeastward, the broad of the valley shrinks come 2 to 3 mile (3 to 5 km). Just over Novosibirsk one more right-bank tributary, the Inya River, join the top Ob; and a dam at Novosibirsk creates the substantial Novosibirsk Reservoir. Listed below Novosibirsk, wherein the river leaves the an ar of woodland steppe to get in a zone that aspen and also birch forest, both valley and also floodplain expand notably until, at the confluence through the Tom River, castle are, respectively, 12 and 3 or an ext miles (19 and 5 or more km) wide. The depth of the top Ob (at low water) varies between 6.5 and also 20 feet (2 and also 6 metres).

The middle Ob starts where the Tom flows right into the main stream, native the right. Taking at very first a northwesterly course, the river afterwards becomes much deeper and wider, particularly after receiving the mightiest right-bank tributary, the Chulym, shortly below the confluence of the Shegarka river from the left. Succeeding tributaries follow me the northwesterly course, after the Chulym, incorporate the Chaya and also the Parabel (both left), the Ket (right), the Vasyugan (left), and also the Tym and Vakh rivers (both right). Under to the Vasyugan confluence the flow passes v the southern belt of the taiga, after that entering the middle belt. Below the Vakh confluence the center Ob alters its course from northwesterly to westerly and receives an ext tributaries: the Tromyegan (right), the good (Bolshoy) Yugan (left), the Lyamin (right), the good Salym (left), the Nazym (right), and finally, in ~ Khanty-Mansiysk, the Irtysh (left). In that is course v the taiga, the center Ob has actually a minimal gradient, a valley widening to 18 come 30 mile (29 to 48 km) wide, and a correspondingly broadening floodplain—12 come 18 miles (19 come 29 km) wide. In this component of the course, the Ob flows in a complex network that channels, with the main bed widening from much less than 1 mile (about 1 km) top top the greater reaches to almost 2 mile (3 km) in ~ the confluence with the Irtysh and becoming progressively cost-free of shoals. Low-water depth vary in between 13 and also 26 feet (4 and 8 metres). In ~ high water there are an excellent floods every year, periodically spreading 15 or also 50 mile (24 come 80 km) across the valley and lasting from two to 3 months.

From its start at the confluence the the Irtysh, the lower Ob flows to the northwest as far as Peregrebnoye and thereafter to the north, cross the northern belt the the taiga till it beginning the ar of forest tundra in the vicinity of its delta. The sink is wide, v slopes steeper top top the appropriate than ~ above the left, and also the large floodplain—12 to 18 mile (19 to 29 km) wide—is crisscrossed by the braided channels of the river and dotted with lakes. Listed below Peregrebnoye the river divides itself into two key channels: the great (Bolshaya) Ob, i m sorry receives the Kazym and also Kunovat rivers from the right, and also the tiny (Malaya) Ob, i beg your pardon receives the north (Severnaya) Sosva, the Vogulka, and the Synya rivers native the left. These main channels are reunited below Shuryshkary right into a single stream the is as much as 12 miles (19 km) wide and 130 feet (40 metres) deep; however after the confluence that the Poluy (from the right) the river branches out again to kind a delta, the two major arms of which space the Khamanelsk Ob, i beg your pardon receives the Shchuchya from the left, and the Nadym Ob, which is the more considerable the the pair. In ~ the base of the delta lies the Gulf the Ob, i beg your pardon is some 500 miles (800 km) long and also has a width reaching 50 mile (80 km); the gulf’s own catchment area (forest tundra and also tundra proper) is much more than 40,000 square mile (105,000 square km).

Climate and also hydrology

The Ob basin has short, warmth summers and long, cold winters. Median January temperatures variety from −18 °F (−28 °C) on the shores the the Kara Sea to 3 °F (−16 °C) in the upper reaches the the Irtysh. July temperatures because that the exact same locations, respectively, variety from 40 °F (4 °C) to over 68 °F (20 °C). The absolute maximum temperature, in the arid south, is 104 °F (40 °C), and the minimum, in the Altai Mountains, is −76 °F (−60 °C). Rainfall, which occurs mainly in the summer, averages less than 16 inches (400 mm) every year in the north, 20 come 24 customs (500–600 mm) in the taiga zone, and also 12 to 16 inches (300–400 mm) on the steppes. The western slopes that the Altai get as lot as 62 inch (1,575 mm) every year. Snow cover lasts because that 240 to 270 days in the north and also for 160 to 170 work in the south. That is deepest in the woodland zone, whereby it ranges from 24 come 36 customs (60–90 cm), and in the mountains, wherein it averages 80 inches (200 cm) per year. That is much shallower ~ above the tundra, ranging from 12 to 20 inches (30–50 cm), and really thin ~ above the steppe, wherein 8 to 16 customs (20–40 cm) fall.

On the top Ob the feather floods begin early in April, once the eye on the levels is melting; and they have a second phase, occurring from the melting of snow on the Altai Mountains. The middle Ob, scarcely affected by the upper Ob’s phases, has one continuous spring-summer period of high water, which begins in mid April. For the reduced Ob, high water begins in late April or beforehand May. Levels, in fact, begin to rise as soon as the watercourse is still obstructed by ice; and maximum levels, which happen by may on the top Ob, might not be reached until June, July, or also August top top the reduced reaches. For the top Ob, the feather floods finish by July, however autumn rains lug high water again in September and October; in the middle and lower Ob, the spring and also summer floodwaters gradually recede till freezing sets in. On the reduced reaches, flooding might last 4 months. Flooding the the Ob proper and of the Irtysh obstructs the young tributaries’ drainage.

Ice forms on the Ob indigenous the end of October come the 2nd week the November, after i m sorry the lower reaches begin to frozen solid. By the last week that November the entire river is frozen; the upper reaches stay frozen for part 150 days, the reduced for 220. The thawing the the ice—which takes much longer than the freezing—lasts from the end of April (upstream) to the finish of May, and also the spring drift (about 5 days in duration) produces considerable ice jams. The difference in level in between high water and low is 25 feet (8 metres) at Novosibirsk top top the top Ob; that reaches 43 feet (13 metres) at Aleksandrovskoye ~ above the middle Ob yet decreases to no more than 20 feet (6 metres) at Salekhard close to the mouth. The water is warmest in July, getting to a best of 82 °F (28 °C) in the vicinity of Barnaul.

The Ob has the third greatest discharge the Siberia’s rivers, ~ the Yenisey and also the Lena. On average, the pours part 95 cubic mile (400 cubic km) that water every year into the Arctic Ocean—about 12 percent of that ocean’s full intake native drainage.

The volume of circulation at Salekhard, just above the delta, is around 1,500,000 cubic feet (42,000 cubic metres) per second at the maximum and 70,000 cubic feet (2,000 cubic metres) per 2nd at the minimum, while for Barnaul, on the top Ob, the equivalent figures room 340,000 and also 5,700 cubic feet (9,600 and 200 cubic metres) per second. The average annual discharge rate at the river’s mouth is about 448,500 cubic feet (12,700 cubic metres) every second. Most of the water comes from the melt of seasonal snow and also from rainfall; much less of it comes from groundwater, mountain snow, and also glaciers.

The waters that the Ob are only slightly mineralized: dissolved substances account because that an annual outpouring that 30.2 million tons into the Kara Sea. The mean amount the solid matter discharged yearly by the Ob totals only about 50 million tons.

Plant and also animal life

Rich meadows expand in bands 1 come 2 mile (2 to 3 km) large for good distances follow me the banks of the Ob and also cover numerous of the many islands. Pine, cedar, silver fir, aspen, and also birch likewise grow top top the banks and occasionally constitute isolated forests on the higher ground the the floodplain. Large areas close to the river room covered with willow, snowball trees (Viburnum), bird cherry (Prunus padus), buckthorn (Hippophaë), currant bushes, and also wild roses.

Of some 50 types of fish uncovered in the river or in the gulf, the most an important economically are several ranges of sturgeon and also such “whitefish” as nelma (Stenodus leucichthys nelma), muksun (Coregonus muksun), tschirr (C. Nasus), and also peled (C. Pelea); pike, burbot, Siberian dace, carp, and perch are also caught. The seasonal ice cover, however, reasons depletion of oxygen in the water, killing plenty of fish every winter in the reaches between the Tym confluence and also the delta.

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Fur-bearing mammals the the Ob valley include European and Siberian mole, Siberian and also American mink, ermine, fox, wolf (in the taiga), elk, white hare, water rat, muskrat, otter, and also beaver. Among much more than 170 varieties of birds reproduction in the floodplain are grouse, partridge, goose, and also duck.