Anadyr River is the largest river in the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug, and flows into the Bering Sea. Its first geographical description was provided by the
Russian explorer Mikhail Stadukhin in the 17th century. The word "Anadyr" is an adaptation in the Russian language of the Yukagir word "anu-an" or "anu-on," which means "river." In the Chukchi language it is called Yaayvaam, which means "Seagull River."
The river, which rises in the eastern slopes of the Aniui Range, is 1150 km long and drains into the western Anadyrsky Bay on the Bering Sea via the Anadyrsky Liman (a brackish lagoon in an embay-ment of the Anadyrsky Bay). The Anadyr has a drainage basin of area 191,000 km2 and flows mainly from west to east. In its upper reaches (about 400 km long to Markova Lowland) in the Aniui Range, the river is narrow and flows southwest. Its main tributaries here are the Bolshoi Peledon, Mechkeryeva, Yablon, and Eropol rivers, which come from the Aniui and Anadyr ranges.
The river turns eastward in the area of the Markovo Lowland, and in its middle and lower parts flows through plains. Here the Anadyr River divides into channels over a 70 km wide floodplain and forms a kind of inland delta with many islands and branches. The lowland is unique due to its warm climate and large areas of talik (bodies of unfrozen ground). Below the Markovo Lowland, the Anadyr River turns northeast at the confluence with Main River coming from the southwest. Other large tributaries in the middle and lower reaches are Belaya River coming from the Chukotskoya Range in the north in the Belskyje Mountains area, the Tanyurer River and Kanchalan River coming from Chukotskoya Range, and the large Velikaya River, which comes from Koryak Range. In the lower reaches extending up to the Belskyje Mountains, tidal flows are important.
The major lakes of the Anadyr River basin are Krasnoye and Elgygytgyn. Krasnoye Lake of area 600 km2 and no more than 4 m depth was originally a channel, now cut off, of the lower Anadyr River. Elgygytgyn Lake, which has an area of 250 km2 and a depth of 170 m, fills the crater of an extinct volcano. It is situated in the Anadyrsko-Kolymskoya watershed in the basin of the Belaya River. The lake remains frozen almost throughout the year, and the temperature of the upper layer of water usually does not exceed +5°C. The lake is characterized by its unique fauna, which includes two species of char endemic to the lake due to its long-term isolation.
The Anadyr freezes from the first half of October to the end of May or early June. Freezeup and ice drifting initiates in the Markovo Lowland. The ice in the estuary appears in the second half of October, but till December or January it remains fragmentary due to tidal flows and strong winds. During ice breakup and snowmelt in June, the river reaches its maximum discharge.
The climate of the Anadyr river basin changes from strong continental Subarctic in the upper part of the river to oceanic Subarctic in the Anadyrsky Bay area. Northern boreal larch forest (Larix cajanderi) reaches its northeastern limit here. In the upper and middle reaches of the river, floodplains are covered by chose-nia-willow-poplar forest (Chosenia arbutifolia, Salix udensis, S. schwerinii, Populus balsamifera) and are rich in boreal (taiga) plant species. The middle and lower Anadyr River is the northern part of a special stlanik subzone that is dominated by a tall (2.5-5 m) shrub growth form of pine and alder species (Pinus pumila, Alnus fruticosa). In the oceanic Onemen Bay area, Arctic shrub tundra vegetation (dwarf willow and other dwarf shrubs, cottongrass, and sedges) dominates. Terrestrial fauna of the river includes boreal species such as goshawk, woodpeckers, ouzels, moose, chipmunk, lynx, squirrel, river otter, and brown bear populating the floodplain forest, and common tundra birds and animals of mountain tundra landscape such as ptarmigan, Arctic fox, lemmings, and bighorn sheep. The largest population of wild reindeer in Chukotka migrates from the south to mountain pastures of the Anadyrskoya and Chukotskoya ranges every summer, crossing the Anadyr River valley. From the time of initial settlement by Paleo-Eskimo Aleuts and Yukagirs, and later Chukchi, fishing has been an important subsistence activity for indigenous peoples in the region, and today chum salmon that spawn in the Anadyr River are an important part of the local income. The most important species fished are chum, hunchback, and red salmon (species of genus Oncorhynchus, Pacific salmon) along with several species of whitefish and char, sheefish, grayling, and pike.
Today the river is an important transportation artery connecting many small villages, and the larger Markovo, Ust-Belaya, and Krasneno villages with Anadyr, the capital city of Chukotka on Anadyrsky Liman.
See also Anadyr; Bering Sea; Chukchi Autonomous Okrug (Chukotka)
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