Ob River and Urengoy Gas Field

Baby Mammoths, Waterfowl, and Gas Fields–world’s largest estuary and second largest gas field

Map boundaries: 60 to 70 degrees North; 60 to 80 degrees East

Country: Russia (Archangel: Nenetsia Autonomous Region, Komi Republic, Krasnoyarsk, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, Tyumen: Khanti Mantsia and Yamilia Autonomous Regions)

Overview

This map area marks the transition from boreal forest to tundra and contains the northern extension of the Ural Mountains, which is the Yamal Peninsula. East of the Urals is the low-lying West Siberian Plain. It is the site of the world’s second largest gas field, the Urengoy field, in Yamalia; and the home of most of percent of Russia’s oil production, in Khantia-Mantsia. The Samotlor Oil Field is Russia’s largest. The Urengoy and Nadym gas fields extend southward from the Gulf of Ob and Gulf of Taz. To the north of the Taz River, the Yamburg Gas field is under development as the world’s third largest gas field. The oil fields are north and east of Surgut and around Nizhnevartovsk. One of Russia’s first oil fields is located in the southwest of the map area around the Konda River (Shaimskoye Oil Field). To complete the fossil energy picture, the northeastern Komi Republic is a major coal mining area, especially around the city of Vorkuta.

The Ob River estuary is the longest in the world. The vast floodplain of the Ob River from Khanti-Mantsia north to the Gulf of Ob is one of the richest waterfowl habitats and nesting areas in the world. Three large Ramsar sites, wetlands of international importance, have been designated along the Ob River.

The Siberian subsoil contains the remains of as many as 150 million mammoths which have been frozen for thousands of years. Ivory tusks are found as more and more tundra melts away as the world warms. Common areas for exposure are along the eroding banks of rivers (Kramer 2008). Since the 19th century, about a dozen soft tissue specimens of mammoths have been recovered. In May 2007, a complete month-old baby mammoth was found lying on a sandbar in the Yuribey River in Yamalia (Mueller 2009).

Ecoregions and Provinces/Political Subdivisions of the Palearctic (PA) Biome

Boreal Forests/Taiga

PA 608, Scandinavian and Russian taiga. Found in Komi Republic. Boreal forests with juniper, birches, pine, and willow.

PA 610, Urals montane tundra and taiga. Found in Komi Republic and Khanti-Mantsia Autonomous Region. Sparse boreal woodlands of pine-spruce and fir-spruce.

PA 611, West Siberian taiga. Found in Khanti-Mantsia autonomous region, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, and Yamalia autonomous region. Boggy area with belts of taiga forests along rivers. Trees are widely spaced with understory of dwarf shrubs.

Tundra

PA 1108, Northwest Russian-Novaya Zemlya tundra. Found in Komi Republic, Nenetsia autonomous region, and Yamalia autonomous region. Low wet tundra on flat coastal plan with small mountains in Nenetsia.

PA 1114, Yamalagydanskaja tundra. Found in Krasnoyarsk and Yamalia autonomous region.

Freshwater Ecoregions of the World

Polar freshwater in habitat type

Europe and Middle East Region

407. Barents Sea Drainages. Includes area of map from Kara River west and includes rivers in Nenetsia, Komi Republic (Usa River) and Vaygach Island. Rivers flow through extensive swamps, meadows and low rolling plains. The Kara flows through the Pay Khoy Mountains, which are separated from the Urals by a vast swampy plain.

Northern Asia Region

602, Ob. Fifth largest drainage basin in the world, includes southern and eastern parts of map area. In the map area the river flows through a swampy taiga floodplain about 20 to 30 km wide. This is within the extensive Western Siberian Lowland, which is 1500 km wide from east to west and 2500 km from north to south. Fish species include arctic migratory species such as tugan, peled, muksun, and char and boreal river species of pike, dace, and perch. Shallow floodplain water bodies called sors serve as major areas of feeding for migratory fish. Major tributaries shown on map are Irtysh, Sosva, Nadym, Pur, and Taz.

605. Yenisei. The tributary shown on the map is the Tanama in the northeastern area. This river system is the largest in volume in Russia.

Marine Ecoregions of the World

Arctic Realm

17. Kara Sea. Includes Baydarata, Ob, and Taz bays on map.

18. North and East Barents Sea. Includes Khaypudyr Bay on map.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Virgin Komi Forests. Found in Komi Republic. See Yugyd Va National Park on map. A vast area of taiga and boreal forests. Ecoregions 610 and 1108.

Ramsar Sites

Islands in Ob Estuary (Nizhne-Obskiy Nature Reserve). Found in Yamalia. This vast delta where the Ob River reaches the sea consists of numerous islands and temporary lakes (sors) used for duck migration. Important bird area. Ecoregion 1114 and MEOW 17.

Lower Dvuobje (Kunovatsky and Verezovsky Nature Reserves). Found in Khantia-Mansia and Yamalia. A river floodplain with islands, temporary lakes, peat bogs, shrubs, and willows. A rich waterfowl nesting habitat, noted for yellow-breasted bunting, red-breasted goose, and lesser white-fronted goose. Breeding area for central population of Siberian cranes. Important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Upper Dvuobje. Found in Khantia-Mansia. This network of Ob River and its tributaries contains seasonal lakes, marshes, and islands in a taiga forest. A rich waterfowl nesting habitat and important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Other Sites

Denezhkin Kamen (Denezhkin Stone) Nature Reserve, Sverdlovsk. Located on eastern slopes of Ural Mountains, contains mountains taiga, subalpine park-like forests and alpine tundra. Breeding area for rustic bunting. Important Bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Kara Impact Structure, Nenetsia. Located where the Kara River enters the Gulf of Baydarata, dated to 70.3 million years ago. Ecoregion 1108.

Khaypudyr Bay, Archangel. A shallow bay surrounded by marshy tundra, home to migratory geese, swans, and ducks. Important bird area. Ecoregion 1108 and MEOW 18.

Konda Lakes, Khanti-Mansia. Breeding area for scaup, goldeneye, and merganser. Important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Malaya (Little) Sosva Nature Reserve, Khanti-Mansia. Protects taiga, bogs, and beavers. Ecoregion 611.

Mammoth Curve (Mamontovaya Kurya), Komi Republic. An archaeological site along Usa River contains stone artifacts, animal bones and mammoth tusks with human-made marks dating to 40,000 years before present. Ecoregions 608 and 1108.

Mulymya River and Big Tap River watersheds, Khanti-Mansia. Breeding area for goldeneye, spotted eagle, corncrake, snipe, and Eurasian curlew. Important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Pelymsky Tuman, Sverdlovsk. Migration area for red-brested goose, important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Big Rogovaya River, Middle Section, Archangel. Important bird area with wet tundra, forest, and fens. Breeding geese, scaup and waterfowl. Ecoregion 1108.

Schuchya and Khadytakha River Basins, Yamalia. Important bird area noted for lesser white-fronted goose and waterbirds. Ecoregions 1108 and 1114.

Vagilsky Tuman, Sverdlovsk. Breeding area for geese, corncrake, and goldeneye. Important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Verkhne-Kondinsky Nature Reserve, Khanti-Mansia. Breeding area for swans, grebes, and owls. Ecoregion 611.

Vizhay River, Sverdlovsk. Breeding area for geese, ducks, warblers. Important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Yorkutayakha River Valley, Yamalia. Important bird area for red-breasted goose. Ecoregion 1114.

Yugan Nature Reserve, Khantia-Mansia. Protects taiga and bogs in west Siberian Plain. Important bird area. Ecoregion 611.

Yuribey River, Yamalia. Important bird area for geese and swans. In 2007, a mammoth over 40,000 years old was found along a sandbar in the Yuribey River. The skeleton, teeth, and soft tissues were undamaged. Found in Yamalia. Ecoregion 1114.

References

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Archibald, George. 1994. The Fading Call of the Siberian Crane. National Geographic 185(5):124-136 (May).

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Center for Russian Nature Conservation, Washington, DC. www.wild-russia.org (accessed October 18, 2009).

Earth Impact Database, University of New Brunswick. http://www.unb.ca/passc/ImpactDatabase/index.html (accessed 2/15/10).

Kramer, Andrew E. 2008. Ivory for the Taking, From Beasts Beyond Caring. New York Times, March 26, 2008.

Mueller, Tom. 2009. Ice Baby. National Geographic 215(5): 30-51 (May).

Ndefo, E.O. et al. 2007. Russia: A Critical Evaluation of Its Natural Gas Resources. Energy Tribune. www.energytribune.com (accessed 11/25/2009).

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Pavlov, Pavel, John Inge Svendsen, and Svein Indrelid. 2001. Human Presence in the European Arctic Nearly 40,000 Years Ago. Nature 413:64-67 (6 September 2001).

Raitala, J. et al. 2003. Kara Crater by Remote Sensing. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV, March 17-21,2003, League City, Texas http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2003/pdf/1057.pdf (accessed 2/15/10).

Russian Academy of Sciences, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution. www.sevin.ru/natreserves (accessed October 18, 2009).

Spalding, Mark D. et al. 2007. Marine Ecoregions of the World: A Bioregionalization of Coastal and Shelf Areas. BioScience 57:573-583.

Warren, Scott S. Belly of the Beast. Alicia Patterson Foundation Reporter 20 (3) (2003). www.aliciapatterson.org/APF2003/APF2003.html (Accessed January 31, 2010).

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