Lake Hovsgol ASI-51

Riparian Nation(s) Mongolia
Surface Area 2770 km2 Mean Depth 138 m Volume 381 km3
Shoreline 414 km Catchment Area 4940 km2 Residence Time
Frozen Period Oct-May Mixing Type Morphogenesis/Dam
Related Info/Site


Lake Hubsugul is the largest freshwater lake in Central Asia. The landscape complex around the lake is unique and inimitable in its beauty. The lake basin consists largely of highlands, where underground permafrost layers, sometimes as deep as 100-200 m, are widespread.

The climate is severely continental with 300-430 mm of mean annual precipitation. Between the lake shore and the top of high mountains reaching 3,491 m in altitude, there is a series of alternating vegetation zones from steppe, through forest-steppe, forest and forest-tundra, to alpine tundra zone. Forests of larch, cedar, pine and birch predominate on permafrost, together with tundra. The lake basin supports 60 species of mammals including 32 game animals and 800 species of plants of which more than 50% are grasses and herbs.

The lake has three tributaries, while a single river, the Egyn-gol flows out toward Lake Baikal. There are petroleum fields in Hatafal and Hanh on the north and the south side of the lake. More than 30 phosphorite beds have also been exploited.

It is of prime importance for this lake as a natural treasure how to maintain its crystal-clean water against the impact from industrial developments. The exploitation of phosphorite beds may disrupt surrounding environments, Lake Hubsugul, and eventually Lake Baikal via the Egyn. Local authorities are making efforts to cope with the problem, but the processes and extent of industrial influence on the environment still remain unknown because of the lack of comprehensive ecological research on the complex system of the lake, its surroundings, rivers and springs (Q1).

Photo of Lake Hovsgol
Photo: P. Nyamjav