Shoal of fishes - Red Sea, Egypt. Getty images

NATO Collaborative Linkage Grant SP.NUKR.CLG.982285
Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery is a Basis of Regional Environmental Security (2006-2009)

The overall goal of the project is to reduce scientific uncertainties in the processes of mixing in the Black Sea and in particular related to the vertical mixing across the thermocline, and horizontal cross-frontal transport between the shelf and open sea regions induced by meso-scale dynamic. The project helps to reveal the pathways of pollutants based on the modern information from direct high-precision measurements of currents and remotely sensed data and obtain a better understanding of how these features influence losses/gains of pollutant/nutrients and hence the biological productivity and environmental stability of the Black Sea. This work is important for future management decisions affecting the Black Sea. The effective control of eutrophication requires major changes in land-based activities that should be advised by solid science. Present uncertainties regarding the behaviour of the system do not allow sufficiently precise modelling for new goals to be set. By reducing the uncertainties, the project will help to improve the environmental security and stability of the Black Sea.

Principal investigators

  • Professor Georgy Shapiro (University of Plymouth, UK)
  • Dr Evgeny Lemeshko (Marine Hydrophysical Institute, Ukraine)

The Black Sea is a large semi-enclosed basin located at the South-Eastern edge of Europe between latitudes of 41° to 46°N and longitudes of 28° to 41.5°E. Limited water exchange with the open basins and weak vertical mixing due to strong density stratification and very small tidal streams result in an almost completely anoxic deep sea basin with poor ecological conditions. The catchment area of the Black Sea is home to over 160 million people spanning 23 countries and drains some of Europe’s largest rivers. Over the last 30 years the Black Sea has suffered one of the worst environmental crises of the world’s marine ecosystems. The dramatic increase in nutrient loads introduced by rivers promoted wide-spread eutrophication, particularly in the shelf zone which is more nutrient-rich and productive as compared with the open Black Sea. So, investigation of horizontal and vertical mixing processes, especially of the processes of shelf/open sea water- and nutrients exchange in the Black Sea is of the great importance. Satellite and hydrographic observations during the last 10–15 years have shown that horizontal water exchange in the Black Sea is substantially determined by mesoscale eddy dynamics. However, the influence of mesoscale eddies on spatial distribution of hydrochemical and hydrobiological characteristics is still poorly known and poorly quantified.

Field phase (co-sponsored by EU PF6 SESAME project and Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany) and visits

There were two field campaigns associated with this project and co-sponsored by relevant national/international projects:
  • POSEIDON-363 (7-25 March 2008), and
  • FELUGA-2009 (16-21 March 2009).

Poseidon-363 cruise

NW Black Sea, 7-25 March 2008, Chief scientist Jana Friedrich, AWI, Germany. Four member of staff from UoP and MHI participated in this cruise: G. Shapiro (University of Plymouth, leader of the oceanography group), D. Aleynik (University of Plymouth, member of the oceanography group), D. Soloviev ( MHI, member of the oceanography group) and L. Mee (University of Plymouth, deputy chief scientist).

The aims of the oceanography group were:
  • collect oceanographic water column data (temperature, salinity, oxygen, current velocities) and remotely sensed data (sea surface temperature and chlorophyll – a concentration) for the study of the water column processes on the western and north-western shelves of the Black Sea
  • collect water samples for the geochemistry and biochemistry group and for the Institute of Oceanology (Varna)
  • operate Fast Rate Repetition Fluorometer (FRRF) and pass the data to the biochemistry group.


Lemeshko E.M., Morozov A.N., Stanychny S.V., Mee L.D., Shapiro G.I.2008. Vertical structure of ocean currents in the northwest Black Sea as determined by LADCP data in May 2004. Physical Oceanography, No 6, 25-37 (pdf). 
McQuatters-Gollop, A., Mee, L.D., Raitsos, D.E. and Shapiro, G. I.2008. Non-linearities, regime shifts and recovery: the recent influence of climate on Black Sea chlorophyll. Journal of Marine Systems, doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.06.002.
Shapiro, G.I., Aleynik, D.L. and Mee, L.D. 2008. Long term trend in the sea surface temperature of the Black Sea. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 10, EGU2008-A-00996, 2008. SRef-ID: 1607-7962/gra/EGU2008-A-00996. EGU General Assembly 2008 (abstract). 
Aleinik, D.L., Shapiro, G.I., Mee, L.D. and Lemeshko, E.M. 2007. Using a Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler for Measuring Current Velocities in the Black Sea, Oceanology, Vol. 47, No. 1, 127–134 (pdf). 
Shapiro, G.I.,Mee,L.D., Aleynik, L. D. and Enriquez, C. E. 2006. Mesoscale Variability in the Western Black Sea – Observations and Numerical Modelling. Challenger Conference for Marine Science, Oban, UK, 11-14 September 2006., Poster 15. 
Shapiro, G.I.,Aleynik, D.L. and Mee, L.D., 2006. Interannual and interdecadal variability of the physical environment in the Black Sea revisited. European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 02 – 07 April 2006. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 8, 00985, 2006, SRef-ID: 1607-7962/gra/EGU06-A-00985.