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    Northern Dvina River

    Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General

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    Form for receipt of article "Northern Dvina River"

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    NORTHERN DVINA River, one of the largest in the European north of the

    Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, is formed by the junction of the

    Sukhona and Yuga Rivers. It drains Vologda and Arkhangelsk Oblasts

    and empties into Dvina Bay of the White Sea. 465 miles in length, its

    watershed covers an area of 139,670 square miles. Flowing almost un–

    interruptedly from southeast to northwest, it moves through a low p [ ?]

    plain of glacial origin, which declines in altitude from 500 feet in

    the south to [ ?] 65-82 feet in the north. The vegetation of the

    plain is virgin taiga forest, consisting of spruce fir and pine with some

    admixture of larch and fir. However, fully one-half of the basin of

    the Dvina is marshland. The Northern Dvina and its tributaries are

    typical plainland rivers with a [ ?] small rate of incline, many

    meanderings and broad valleys.

            Five sections of the river may be dis–

    tinguished. The uppermost, 43 miles in length, between the junction

    of the Sukhona and Yuga and the mouth of the Vychegda, is called the

    Malaya (Lesser) Northern Dvina. Here the river flows in a broad val–

    ley, averaging two to two-and-a-half miles in width, and abounds in

    islands and shoals. The next section, 195 miles in length, down to

    the mouth of the Vaga, is called the Bolshaya (Greater) Northern

    Dvina. The river as such does not differ in nature from the upstream

    section, but the banks, here of sand and clay composition, attain in

    places a height of 100 to 130 feet. The following section, lying be–

    tween the mouths of the Vaga and Pinega, 130 miles in length, is dif–

    ferent in character. Here the valley narrows; the channel is more

    stable, having fewer islands; and the banks, chiefly of limestone,

    are 30 to 50 feet in height. The section from the Pinega to the delta

    is characterized by tidal phenomena. For Tthe first 3.6 miles of this sec–

    tion the rivers flows in a single channel between high, dry banks,

    but then divides into numerous, branches, which unite again into one

    at Arkhangelsk. In this section the channel clings to the right bank,

    The In its lowest reaches, below the city, the river forms

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    Northern Dvina

    the river forms a large triangular delta, some 30 miles in length.

    Here there are five main branches, the Nikolsk, Murmansk, [ ?]

    Korabelnyi (Ship), Maimaksa and [ ?] Kuznechikha.

    The delta consists of a series of low, muddy islands, flooded for the

    most part during spring high water and cut up by arms and natural


            The most important tributaries of the Northern Dvina, other than

    the Sukhona and Yuga, of which it is formed, are the Vychegda (677

    miles long) and the Pinega to from the east, and the Vaga and Emtsa

    from the west, but the [ ?] rivers of its basin total some 600. There

    is also a large number of lakes, of which the most important are the

    Kuben (142 square miles), which is the source of the Sukhona River,

    and the Shai, connected to the [V?]olshaia Dvina by the Pukshenga River.

            The Dvina is fed by snow. It reaches its lowest point before the

    ice melts, about the middle of April. The rise takes place rapidly, and

    recedes over a period of a month and a half, so that the river returns

    to its banks at the beginning of June. Thereafter the level is stable,

    but there is a considerable rise for a month in the F fall, decreasing

    with the [ ?] appearance of ice on its surface. The river

    opens again in its upper reaches at the end of April, and at Arkhangel [ ?]

    at the beginning of May. The river is free of ice within six to eight

    days after it begins to break up. In the F f all floating ice makes its

    appearance at the end of October, and it is between 10 and 20 days be–

    fore the river is frozen solid. The riveris free of ice 170 to 175

    days in the year, and blocked 160 to 190. At Arkhangelsk the average is

    181 days. The average thickness of ice, measured at Kholmogor, is

    [ ?] 3' 4", but it is considerably less along the middle and upper [ ?]

    reaches of the river.

            The flow of water fluctuates, widely during the year. 50 to 70%

    of the annual flow takes place during the spring; 25 to 30% during the

    summer; and only 10 to 20% during the winter. The current is negligible.

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    Northern Dvina

    The composition of the water has been little studied. The effects of

    tide may be observed as far as 80 miles upstream. In the delta the tide

    reaches four feet, but declines progressively upstream.

            Flowing as it does through the most important timber country of

    the European portion of the USSR, an area, furthermore, which is poor–

    ly served by railroads, and not at all by through roads., the Northern

    Dvina is of considerable importance for transport. It hauls but a

    single freight: felled trees in the rough, moving downstream to the

    largest lumber milling and exporting center of the USSR, Arkhangelsk.

    It also carries small quantities of mineral , building materials and

    grain. It is connected to the Mary system of inland waterways and the

    Volga through the Northern Dvina canal. The very low height of the

    Marshy watershed in which it takes its rise, coupled with the fact that

    northward, rather than southward , flow , is determined by the curvature

    of the earth, has given rise to a project, since World War II, to di–

    vert the river at its source (this will not affect the lower [ ?]

    tributaries and their lumber-carrying capacity, while dredging can main–

    tain Arkhangelsk) into the Volga. The purpose of this major operation

    is to help prevent the drying up of the Caspian Sea, into which the

    Volga empties, a phenomenon which can have catastrophic effects upon

    the Baku petroleum industry, shipping and agriculture. Thus the snows

    of the Arctic are to be made to [ ?] meet the needs of a sub-tropical

    desert region.


    William Mandel


    80 12 ﹍ 160 80 ﹍ 960

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