Climate change/Russians change course of river

Has anyone ever heard anything about the Russians many years ago changing the course of a river to flow into the far northern ports to keep them open longer?
If so I wonder the impact this could possibly have on ocean currents and weather? I read something many years ago about them blowing away mountains to redirect one river but can find nothing to this effect on the internet.

Has anyone ever heard anything about the Russians many years ago changing the course of a river to flow into the far northern ports to keep them open longer?
If so I wonder the impact this could possibly have on ocean currents and weather? I read something many years ago about them blowing away mountains to redirect one river but can find nothing to this effect on the internet.

Are you thinking of this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_river_reversal

I had a small paperback, back in the 1970’s, that was published in the Soviet Union. It described a number of geo-engineering projects, from the mundane to the fantastic. The classic was building a dam across the narrows in the Congo - a dam about 4 miles long could build a giant lake that would then be diverted to the south Sahara.

I remember something in there about diverting rivers, but IIRC it was to divert a Siberian river south to help irrigate the area around the Aral sea.

None of these projects got beyond the pie-in-the-sky-ski phase, in the same category as the ideas of nuclear excavations to create a sea-level replacement for the Panama canal. I suspect that’s the case with what you think you remember too.

I do recall a presentation on Norilsk, a mining town (IIRC the gulag location featured in A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich); during the spring thaw the entire riverfront is pulled back half a kilometer due to floods from melting snow. I doubt that too many Siberian rivers near significant settlements could easily handle extra volumes of water.

I don’t know the specific case you are talking about, but people have been altering in various ways the courses of rivers since ancient times.

Was that specific case extraordinary in some way?

The soviet union planned to divert siberian rivers to the south, but this was to irrigate central asia, nothing to do with keeping ports opened.
They started on it including digging a canal with nuclear explosions (!!!) but it was abandoned in the mid 80’s.

Merged duplicate threads.

samclem

OP’s question “rang a bell” but Google pointed me to River reversals intended for the opposite direction, to divert water uselessly flushed into the Arctic into water for arid Central Asia. Apparently the plans were eventually canceled by Gorbachev.

Google also turned up Russian rivers freshening the Beaufort Sea, but that seems unrelated to any river rerouting.

ETA: whether due to thread-merging or my own slowness, I see now I’m posting the same Wikipedia link as two earlier Dopers. ::whack::

What I do remember about the article was that it said it was the first time a river had been changed from one ocean to another. This was strictly for the purpose of keeping ports open longer, I am familiar with the irrigation projects. In a subsequest search a few years ago which I can’t find now I found something about a river diverted to another river that was keeping ports open an extra 2 months or so. I also read climatogists were somewhat concerned about the effect it may have on ocean currents

Telemark, yes that was the later one that I read, the issue was salinity. As soon as I read it it came back to me. The first one I read was maybe 40 years ago and that was in regard to keeping northern ports open.

Interesting thread. Central Asia is arid-if irrigated, it would be a fertile area-like the Central Valley of California. If the great rivers of Central Asia were diverted, the salinity of the Arctic Ocean would increase-and the number of ice-free days would likely increase. This might result in warming of that region of the arctic.
Irrigation of the Central Asia region might also increase the evaporation of moisture, and result in increased rainfall in western China (now a desert region).
The effects of this might be good-or bad.

I know the temperatures of ocean currents are one of the single largest factors that affect weather. If the flow ere to change a few degrees ( El Nino) on the west coast. Our weather is greatly affected. Disrupting a relatively stable source of temperature like these currents could affect the entire globe and possibly is allready as well as affecting the amount of ice in the Arctic.

Soviet river diversion plans have wreaked a monumental environmental catastrophe on the Aral Sea. This Wiki article makes dreadful reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aral_Sea

That’s what I thought of too. I read for hours and hours on that topic one day. Fascinating and tragic.

That was hardly tragic. It was planned, and it was EXPECTED by the planners. They knew the Aral Sea would shrink. It’s not one of those green wet-dream of “men changing the nature then finds environmental problem” scenario. The engineers knew this gonna happen, but they decided to do it anyway because the benefit outweight the cost.

The shrinking of the Aral Sea is hardly a disaster. It did impact the fishing industry, but at the same time, agriculture can be developed in a region that would otherwise be too dry. Fresh water is now abudant. No matter how large the Aral sea is, it was salty water and could not be consumed, it was economically insignificant, the only benefit being the fishing industry.

Ban Ki-Moon and UNESCO would disagree on your definition of disaster and 'economically insignificant"
http://www.tashkent.unesco.org/news/435/

“June 28, 2012 – Inception meeting and presentation of the United Nations newly launched Joint Programme “Sustaining Livelihoods Affected by the Aral Sea Disaster” was held in Nukus, Karakalpakstan, and engaged national implementing partners, the representatives of regional and district authorities, community leaders, and media. The participants of the meeting discussed the main activity directions and made their recommendations for successful implementation of the Programme”

Presented here merely as a cite and not a debate topic which surely in any case belongs in another forum

The drying up of the Aral Sea was caused by the diversion of the rivers that fed it. (The water was used to irrigate cotton farms)-because of this, the Aral Sea began shrinking in the 1960’s.
The diversion of the northward-flowing rivers is a separate issue entirely-this water is largely wasted, flowing into the Arctic Ocean. Would it make sense to refill the Aral Basin? probably-but I doubt that Russia has the money to do this.

“Hardly tragic” and “economically insignificant?” Are you claiming that the loss of all that surface water, saline or not, has no effect upon the local climate and weather? What about all the water that evaporated off the Aral Sea in past years and contributed to local rainfall? Seems to me that you are missing out on a lot of climatological side effects here, which is exactly what the Soviets did as well. Profit and productivity are once again the siren call to ecological disaster.