Locations, Geography and Climate in USSR

Memo: S/M – The U.S.S.R. – Possible Settlement Locations, Geography and Climate

Compiled by: Gene Chaikin, with Tom Grubbs and Dick Tropp

1. General Statements and Conclusions:

All available “southern” areas in the U.S.S.R. fall in latitudes equivalent to Pittsburgh on the south, Albany in the center, and Montreal on the north. In a generalized sense there are no climates which are warm the year around. However, there are some small, local areas of quite mild climate due to weather modification by local conditions, general bodies of water or mountains. Since these areas are small the books we have on hand do not give us detailed information,  so that we have had to resort to deduction and assumption.

2. Criteria for Evaluation:

We felt that anywhere citrus crops could be grown it would not be too cold in the winters because the trees can only withstand a small amount of frost. There may be, however, winters with a lot of 45 to 55° weather. These we consider “first choice” areas. The next best we felt were areas where rice and cotton are grown, because they take hot summers and fairly long growing seasons.  They are in semi-deserts and have called, though dry winters (some blown snow, perhaps) as well as large diurnal temperature variations. These would consider “second choice” areas.

3. First Choice Areas – Mediterranean Climate, citrus production:

No. 1. The east coast of the Black Sea, south of the Caucasus Mountains. This area is partly in the Georgian SSR,  and partly in the Russian Federative SSR,  in the area called Kransnador.  It is a narrow costal [coastal] plain that lies between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains.  The mountains which are over 15,000’,  block the cold air from the north and east. The Black Sea moderates the climate. There is adequate rainfall because of proximity to the sea and conventional patterns. All varieties of semi-tropical agriculture are practiced and there is a fairly heavy population concentration.

No. 2. In areas south of Baku, on the western side of the Caspian Sea. This area is in the Azerbaijan SSR,  very near the Iranian Border.  It is physically close to, and in many ways must resemble No. 1,  except that it is likely somewhat drier, with lower hills.

Nos. 3 & 4. These are located within 300 miles or so of each other in the foothills or the mountains that make up the northern Himalayas, in the general vicinity of the China-Pakistan-Soviet border, south and west of Lake Balkhash.  They are apparently in the Uzbek SSR and the Kirzig SSR.  It is peculiar to find a citrus growing area here because it is in the center of a huge continental mass, in a mountainous area, and at a latitude slightly north of Mt. Shasta. One might expect a climate something on the order of Denver, Colorado. However, Tom speculates that these areas are in valleys that are heated by the “fauna” wind effect, which keeps warm air settled in the valleys and keeps them much warmer than the surrounding hilly areas. This must be so because they could not possibly grow citrus in such a climate area. The winters would kill the trees. For instance, except for the “fauna effect” the average January temperature in this area, assuming an altitude of 2000’ or less, would be 17 degrees.  There appears to be a lot of agriculture in the general area, and a lot of oil nearby, so the area is substantially developed. Cities that may be in these areas (the agricultural maps do not have any political geography and cannot be superimposed) are Andizhan, Samarkand or Dushanbe.  There is a large Russian Slavic population mixed with the Turcic  peoples who are indigenous to the region. Interestingly, the language map for the region shows these mixtures, plus such languages in isolated areas as  Iranian, Gypsy, and Korean.

4. Second Choice Areas – “Southern” Continental Climate, rice and cotton production:

These are two areas, quite similar, which followed the river beds of the two main rivers that flow from the mountains in the South, generally north and empty into the sea of Aral. They are the Syr  river, located in the Kazakh SSR,  and the Amu river, located in the Uzbek SSR.  They are areas that are mainly devoted to the raising of cotton and rice on huge  irrigated collective farms. There are now many Russian Slavs there, as well as the indigenous Turcic  peoples. The area has been developed mostly in the last 20 years and is still very new. The crops require a fairly long, and hot growing season – the Bakersfield area is a good illustration, although the latitude of the area under discussion is more like that of Redding, Cal. The climate is continental, but quite dry and most of the area, around 10” per year. Most of the precipitation is in the winter – which means snow. We suspect an average January temperature of 20 degrees,  and an average July temperature of 80 degrees.  It is likely quite windy, which would add to a chill factor with the winter cold. This would appear to be a fairly rigorous climate for our people, both as to summer heat and winter cold. On the other hand, it is dry which is fairly healthy and makes both temperature extreems [extremes] easier to take.

5. Other choices: The  best of the rest seem to have a latitude and climate not unlike  Minneapolis, Minn. or colder. Perhaps the areas of Moldavia or the southernmost and westernmost portions of the Ukrainian SSR,  right near the Black Sea might be more mild. This area is too small to get any information about in our literature. We rather expect, however, that it is an area of warm summers, excellent soils and a good growing season but a cold and snowy winter changing to, perhaps, a cold and foggy winter on the coast. These areas in the Southwest must also be very populated. The Moldavian SSR  has the largest average per square mile population of any of the Republics,  which may only mean that there is little waste land in the area.

6. Political Evaluation:

It  appears less likely that they would be interested in putting us in highly populated, well developed areas near strategic borders, such as Nos. 1, 2,  and the southwest,  although No. 1  would appear the best for us. However, they have permitted the settlement in the nearby Armenian SSR  of some 200,000 non-Soviet Armenians in the last 20 years. Unfortunately, these “preferred” living areas present the appearance of fairly large population concentrations and full use of the available farm land. We feel, therefor [therefore], for both political and demographic reasons that the Soviets would rather have us in a new “pioneering” area – which means Nos. 3 & 4,  or the “second choice” areas.

7. Conclusion:

We suggest that the Soviets may not understand our needs for, or rather our standards of a “warm” climate. Our literature is very generalized and we are not able to get the descriptions of small areas. We strongly suggest that a party of our people go to any of the areas suggested by the Soviets, during the winter, to make a first hand inspections of the conditions and an evaluation of their suitability for our people.

Respectfully submitted,

October 25, 1978

Originally posted on February 17th, 2013.

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