Last update: September 15th, 2019 at 11:00 am
Ice clogs the northern end of the Caspian Sea in this true-color Aqua MODIS image from March 31, 2003. The Caspian Sea is actually a salt-water lake, albeit the largest lake in the world, covering 373,000 square kilometers (1 square kilometer=0.3861 square mile). Surrounding the Caspian Sea are five countries (clockwise from top left): Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan.
Because the Caspian sits on considerable oil reserves, this lake is of great strategic and economic importance. Another of the Caspian´s very valuable attributes is the fact that this is where sturgeon, the source of beluga caviar, live and spawn. Unfortunately, the destruction of spawning areas and illegal fishing have had serious repercussions on the sturgeon population.
Also visible in the image are a number of fires, which are marked in red. The fires are concentrated in the fan-shaped Volga River Delta at upper left and all along the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains at middle left. These fires are likely agricultural in nature; many farmers use fire to prepare the land for spring planting.
For more information on the Caspian Sea, read this article on Encyclopedia.com.
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC