Ob-Irtysh River

The Ob-Irtysh River is the seventh longest river in the world.

The Ob-Irtysh River is the 7th longest river in the world at 3,364 miles. It originates at the junction of the Biya and Katun rivers, in the Altai Mountains in Western Siberia, Russia and ends in the Gulf of Ob which is a long bay of the Kara Sea which adjoins the Arctic Ocean.

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The Ob and Irtysh Rivers are really two separate rivers but share the same drainage basin so geographers lump them together. The two rivers join together long before the Gulf of Ob. Other main tributaries of the Ob-Irtysh River include the Tom, the Chulym, the Ket, the Tym, the Vakh, the Vasyugan, and the Sosva Rivers.

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The main river basin of the Ob-Irtysh consists mostly of steppe, taiga, swamps, tundra, and semi-desert topography.

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The floodplains of the Ob are characterized by many tributaries and lakes. The river freezes over for 4 to 5 months every year but the area can get hot in the Summer and is popular for sightseers and does have tourist hotels along its sandy beach stretches.  

The main uses of the Ob-Irtysh River are for irrigation, drinking water, hydroelectric energy, and fishing.

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The river has more than 50 species of fish including sturgeon, sterlyad, nelma, muksun, chirs, sig, peled, zander, pike, ide, burbot, dace, roach, karen, and perch. Grapes, Melons and watermelons are grown along some parts of the river. Wildlife includes giant sea eagles and many different varieties of gulls, ducks and other waterfowl.

Major cities along the Ob-Irtysh include Barnaul, Novoaltaysk, Stone-on-Ob, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Kolpashevo, Nizhnevartovsk, Surgut, Salekhard, Labytnangi, Tobolsk, and Tyumen.


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A series of canals connects the Ob-Irtysh with the Yenisei River which is also located in Siberia and is the 5th longest river in the world but just 81 miles longer than the Ob-Irtysh.

The Ob-Irtysh River faces the same concerns many rivers around the world and particularly Asia face – pollution. As once remote areas become more open to industrialization, rivers like the Ob-Irtysh face increasing pollution risks.  

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