The climate characteristics of East Siberia were deciphered, in particular, changes of its humidity within the time interval of up to 5 My BC. It was established that the main activity of speciation had occurred in the Pleistocene, i.e., during the period of frequent dramatic changes of the climate.
The dating of speciation events of all the kingdoms of Baikal organisms was for the first time carried out with a good approximation. The bunches of the most variable species which do not attach to the bottom during their whole life cycle are of ancient roots the age of which is compared with the age of Lake Baikal (Miocene, 25 My).
The multivolume series of Guides and Keys to Lake Baikal Endemic Species and Cosmopolites (2,642 taxa) was published for the first time during the history of Lake Baikal studies. This series is a result of long-term studies with methods of classical biology, systematics, taxonomy, light and electronic microscopy, as well as ecology of species.
The deposits of gas hydrates were discovered in surface layers of sediments in Southern and Middle Baikal. It was revealed that a rich community of organisms was connected with them. This community is chemotropic and receives its carbon from methane processing rather than from photosynthesis.
Structures of communities of archea and bacteria, and phototrophic picoplankton inhabiting the Baikal water column at depths from 0 to 1637 m were described. Many of nucleotide sequence clusters found do not have close analogs in the world database. It is supposed that Baikal microorganisms have a lot of “endemics” surviving dramatic climatic changes occurring in the Pleistocene. There were identified large-scale natural phenomena – methane discharge into the lake water column from its bottom in all the basins. A lot of “flames” of methane discharge including those from craters of mud volcanoes were recorded.
Deposits of methane hydrates in Baikal sediments, as well as in near-bottom layers were for the first time estimated.
The Institute has been carried out a great amount of work of applied character. The Institute headed the elaboration of the "Norms of Permissible Impacts on Ecological System of Lake Baikal" which are valid up to this date. In 1996 it initiated the inclusion of Lake Baikal into the List of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. The Institute took part in the elaboration of the draft of the “Law of the Russian Federation on the Protection of Lake Baikal”.
The production of bottled drinking water is being continued. Over 70 mln liters of Baikal drinking water (over 1 bln rubles) has been sold to commercial organizations using licence on patent “Method on Production of Baikal Drinking Water”. The stock of the Baikal whitefish omul was surveyed by trawling and acoustic techniques combined. Together with Joint Stock Company “Irkutskenergo” the scientific research fleet of the Institute carried out high-voltage cable laying for the electrification of Olkhon Island. Complex hydrochemical and biological studies were conducted in the area of New-Irkutsk Heat Station. This survey helped power specialists to give up the idea of building new costly ash-and-sludge dumps. The Institute developed for Irkutsk medical establishments a PCR-test-system for detection of rubella virus and techniques for quantification of medications in blood serum for therapeutic medical monitoring.
In 2006, the Institute hosted the 19th International Diatom Symposium (IDS2006) in which 97 foreign scientists, students and post-graduate students took part from 32 countries. For the last 40 years this Symposium is held every two years in different countries of the world. For the first time of its history it was held in Russia.
The Institute cooperates with international institutions. Since the 1990-s, 249 international expeditions have been carried out on Lake Baikal with the participation of 456 Russian and 1353 foreign scientists from 36 countries. Baikal has become an international laboratory for studying changes of the environment and climate, biological speciation, hydrochemistry and chemistry of atmosphere.