Black Sea is a body of water and marginal sea of the Atlantic
Ocean between Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Western Asia. It is
supplied by a number of major rivers, such as the Danube, Dnieper,
Southern Bug, Dniester, Don, and the Rioni. About a third of Europe
drains into the Black Sea, including the countries of Austria,
Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Germany,
Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Turkey and Ukraine.
Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km2
(168,500 sq mi) (not including the Sea of Azov), a
maximum depth of 2,212 m (7,257 ft), and a volume of
547,000 km3 (131,000 cu mi). It is constrained by
Pontic Mountains to the south,
Caucasus Mountains to the east,
Crimean Mountains to the north,
Strandzha to the southwest, Dobrogea
Plateau to the northwest, and features a wide shelf to the northwest.
The longest east-west extent is about 1,175 km (730 mi).
Important cities along the coast include Batumi, Burgas, Constanța,
Giresun, Istanbul, Kerch, Novorossiysk, Odessa, Ordu, Poti, Rize,
Samsun, Sevastopol, Sochi, Sukhumi, Trabzon, Varna, Yalta, and
Black Sea has a positive water balance; that is, a net outflow of
water 300 km3 (72 cu mi) per year through the Bosphorus
Dardanelles into the Aegean Sea.
Mediterranean water flows
Black Sea as part of a two-way hydrological exchange. The
Black Sea outflow is cooler and less saline, and floats over the warm,
Mediterranean inflow – as a result of differences in
density caused by differences in salinity – leading to a significant
anoxic layer well below the surface waters. The
Black Sea drains into
Mediterranean Sea, via the
Aegean Sea and various straits, and is
navigable to the Atlantic Ocean. The
Strait connects it to
the Sea of Marmara, and the
Strait of the
Dardanelles connects that
sea to the
Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean. These waters
separate Eastern Europe, the
Caucasus and Western Asia. The Black Sea
is also connected to the
Sea of Azov
Sea of Azov by the
Strait of Kerch.
The water level has varied significantly. Due to these variations in
the water level in the basin, the surrounding shelf and associated
aprons have sometimes been land. At certain critical water levels it
is possible for connections with surrounding water bodies to become
established. It is through the most active of these connective routes,
the Turkish Straits, that the
Black Sea joins the world ocean. When
this hydrological link is not present, the
Black Sea is an endorheic
basin, operating independently of the global ocean system, like the
Caspian Sea for example. Currently the
Black Sea water level is
relatively high, thus water is being exchanged with the Mediterranean.
Turkish Straits connect the
Black Sea with the Aegean Sea, and
comprise the Bosphorus, the
Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles.
3.1 Modern names
3.2 Historical names and etymology
4 Geology and bathymetry
7.1.2 Animal species
7.1.3 Ecological effects of pollution
Mediterranean connection during the Holocene
10.1.1 Deluge hypothesis
10.2 Recorded history
11 Modern use
11.1 Commercial and civic use
126.96.36.199 Ports and ferry terminals
188.8.131.52 Merchant fleet and traffic
11.1.3 Hydrocarbons exploration
11.1.4 Holiday resorts and spas
11.2 Modern military use
11.2.1 International and military use of the Straits
12 Trans-sea cooperation
13 See also
15 External links
International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the
Black Sea as follows:
On the Southwest. The Northeastern limit of the
Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara [A line
Cape Rumili with
Cape Anatoli (41°13'N)].
In the Kertch Strait. A line joining Cape Takil and Cape Panaghia
Most populous urban areas along the
Black Sea coastline
national-level municipality on the Crimean Peninsula
Sunset on the
Black Sea at Laspi, Crimea
The estuary of the
Veleka in the Black Sea.
Longshore drift has
deposited sediment along the shoreline which has led to the formation
of a spit, Sinemorets, Bulgaria
Black Sea near Constanţa, Romania
Current names of the sea are usually equivalents of the English name
"Black Sea", including these given in the countries bordering the
Abkhaz language Амшын Еиқәа, IPA: [ɑmʂɨn ɛjkʷʰɑ]
Adyghe language Хы шӏуцӏэ, IPA: [xə ʃʼəw.t͡sʼa]
Bulgarian language Черно море, IPA: [ˈtʃɛrno moˈrɛ]
Crimean Tatar language
Crimean Tatar language Къара денъиз, IPA: [qɑrɑ
Georgian language შავი ზღვა, IPA: [ʃɑvi zɣvɑ]
Laz and Mingrelian languages - უჩა ზუღა,
IPA: [utʃɑ zuɣɑ], or simply ზუღა, IPA: [zuɣɑ],
Romanian language Marea Neagră, (pronounced [ˈmare̯a
ˈne̯aɡrə] ( listen)
Russian language Чёрное мо́рe, IPA: [ˈtɕornəjə
Turkish language Karadeniz, IPA: [kaˈɾadeniz]
Ukrainian language Чорне море, IPA: [ˈtʃɔrnɛ
Such names have not yet been shown conclusively to predate the
13th century, but there are indications that they may be
considerably older.
In Greece, the historical name "Euxine Sea", which holds a different
meaning (see below), is still widely used:
Greek language Éfxeinos Póntos (Eύξεινος Πόντος); the
literal Mavri Thalassa (Μαύρη Θάλασσα) is less common
Black Sea is one of four seas named in English after common colour
terms—the others being the Red Sea, the
White Sea and the Yellow
Historical names and etymology
The principal Greek name "Póntos Áxeinos" itself is generally
accepted to be a rendering of Iranian *axšaina- (“dark colored”),
cf. Avestan axšaēna- (“dark colored”), Old Persian axšaina-
(color of turquoise),
Middle Persian axšēn/xašēn ("blue"), and New
Persian xašīn ("blue"), as well as Ossetic œxsīn (“dark
gray"). The ancient Greeks subsequently adopted the name,
reportedly in all likelihood those who lived to the north of the Black
Sea, and altered it into á-xe(i)nos. Thereafter, Greek tradition
refers to the
Black Sea as the "Inhospitable Sea", Πόντος
Ἄξεινος Póntos Áxeinos, first attested in Pindar
(c. 475 BC). The name, considered to be "ominous", was
then later changed into the euphemism "Hospitable sea",
Εὔξεινος Πόντος Eúxeinos Póntos, which was also for
the first time attested in Pindar. This became the commonly used
designation in Greek for the sea. In contexts related to
mythology, the older form "Póntos Áxeinos" remained favored.
Previously, it was erroneously suggested that the name had to be
derived from the color of the water, or at least were to be related to
climatic particulars. Black (or dark), in this context however,
referred to a system in which colors represented the various "cardinal
points" of the known world. Black, or dark represented the north,
red the south, white for the west, and green or light blue for the
east. This symbolism based on cardinal points was used in a
plethora of different occasions, and is therefore widely attested.
For example, the "Red Sea", a body of water reported since the time of
Herodotus (c. 484–c. 425 BC) in fact designated the Indian
Ocean, together with bodies of water known as the
Persian Gulf and the
"actual" Red Sea. According to the same explanation and reasoning,
it is therefore considered to be impossible for the
principally roamed in what is present-day
Ukraine and Russia) to have
given the designation as they lived to the north of the sea, and it
would be therefore a southern antipodal body of water for them. As
the name could have only been given by a people that were well aware
of both the northern "black/dark" and southern "red" seas, it is
therefore considered probable that it was given its name by the
Achaemenids (550–330 BC).
Geographica (1.2.10) reports that in antiquity, the Black Sea
was often just called "the Sea" (ὁ πόντος ho pontos). He also
thought that the
Black Sea was called "inhospitable" before Greek
colonization because it was difficult to navigate, and because its
shores were inhabited by savage tribes.(7.3.6) The name was changed to
"hospitable" after the Milesians had colonized the southern shoreline,
the Pontus, making it part of Greek civilization.
In Greater Bundahishn, a sacred Zoroastrian text written in Middle
Black Sea is called Siyābun.
A map of Asia dating to 1570, entitled "Asiae Nova Descriptio", from
Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, labels the sea Mar Maggior
("Great Sea", cf. Latin mare major).
English-language writers of the 18th century often used the name
"Euxine Sea" (/ˈjuːksɪn/ or /ˈjuːkˌsaɪn/) to refer to the Black
Sea. Edward Gibbon, for instance, calls the sea by this name
throughout The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire. During the
Ottoman Empire period, the
Black Sea was called
either Bahr-e Siyah or Karadeniz, both meaning "the Black Sea" in the
It is worthy to note, that in the tenth-century geography book Hudud
al-'Alam, written in the Persian language by an unknown author, the
Black Sea is called "Georgian Sea", "Sea of Georgians" ("daryä-yi
Old Georgian sources of 9th–14th centuries ("The Georgian
Chronicles") were using the name "Speris Zğua" (სპერის
ზღუა), which means "The Sea of Speri", after the name of
Kartvelian tribe Speris or Saspers, now in Turkey.
The modern names of the
Black Sea (Chyornoye more, Karadeniz, etc.),
stretch only back to the 13th century.
Geology and bathymetry
The bay of Sudak, Crimea
The geological origins of the basin can be traced back to two distinct
relict back-arc basins which were initiated by the splitting of an
Albian volcanic arc and the subduction of both the Paleo- and
Neo-Tethys Oceans, but the timings of these events remain
controversial. Since its initiation, compressional tectonic
environments led to subsidence in the basin, interspersed with
extensional phases resulting in large-scale volcanism and numerous
orogenies, causing the uplift of the Greater Caucasus, Pontides,
Crimean Peninsula and Balkanides mountain ranges.
The ongoing collision between the Eurasian and African plates and
westward escape of the Anatolian block along the North Anatolian Fault
and East Anatolian Faults dictates the current tectonic regime,
which features enhanced subsidence in the
Black Sea basin and
significant volcanic activity in the Anatolian region. It is these
geological mechanisms which, in the long term, have caused the
periodic isolations of the
Black Sea from the rest of the global ocean
The modern basin is divided into two sub-basins by a convexity
extending south from the Crimean Peninsula. The large shelf to the
north of the basin is up to 190 km (120 mi) wide, and
features a shallow apron with gradients between 1:40 and 1:1000. The
southern edge around
Turkey and the eastern edge around Georgia,
however, are typified by a narrow shelf that rarely exceeds 20 km
(12 mi) in width and a steep apron that is typically 1:40
gradient with numerous submarine canyons and channel extensions. The
Euxine abyssal plain
Euxine abyssal plain in the centre of the
Black Sea reaches a maximum
depth of 2,212 metres (7,257.22 feet) just south of
Yalta on the
The littoral zone of the
Black Sea is often referred to as the Pontic
littoral or Pontic zone.
The area surrounding the
Black Sea is commonly referred to as the
Black Sea Region. Its northern part lies within the
(black soil belt) which goes from eastern
Croatia (Slavonia), along
Danube (northern Serbia, northern
Bulgaria (Danubian Plain) and
Romania (Wallachian Plain)) to northeast
Ukraine and further
Central Black Earth Region
Central Black Earth Region and southern
SeaWiFS view reveals the colourful interplay of currents on the
Black Sea is a marginal sea and is the world's largest body of
water with a meromictic basin. The deep waters do not mix with the
upper layers of water that receive oxygen from the atmosphere. As a
result, over 90% of the deeper
Black Sea volume is anoxic water.
The Black Sea's circulation patterns are primarily controlled by basin
topography and fluvial inputs, which result in a strongly stratified
vertical structure. Because of the extreme stratification, it is
classified as a salt wedge estuary.
Black Sea only experiences water transfer with the Mediterranean
Sea, so all inflow and outflow occurs in the
Dardanelles. Inflow from the
Mediterranean has a higher salinity and
density than the outflow, creating the classical estuarine
circulation. This means that inflow of dense water from the
Mediterranean occurs at the bottom of the basin while outflow of
Black Sea surface-water into the
Marmara Sea occurs near the
surface. Fresher surface water is the product of the fluvial inputs,
and this makes the
Black Sea a positive sea. The net input of
freshwater creates an outflow volume about twice that of the inflow.
Evaporation and precipitation are roughly equal at about 300 cubic
kilometres per year (72 cu mi/a).
Because of the narrowness and shallowness of the
Dardanelles (their respective depths are only 33 and 70 meters),
inflow and outflow current speeds are high and there is significant
vertical shear. This allows for turbulent mixing of the two
layers. Surface water leaves the
Black Sea with a salinity of 17
psu and reaches the
Mediterranean with a salinity of 34 psu. Likewise,
inflow of the
Mediterranean with salinity 38.5 psu experiences a
decrease to about 34 psu.
Mean surface circulation is cyclonic and waters around the perimeter
Black Sea circulate in a basin-wide shelfbreak gyre known as
the Rim Current. The Rim Current has a maximum velocity of about
50–100 cm/s. Within this feature, two smaller cyclonic gyres
operate, occupying the eastern and western sectors of the basin.
The Eastern and Western Gyres are well-organized systems in the winter
but dissipate into a series of interconnected eddies in the summer and
autumn. Mesoscale activity in the peripheral flow becomes more
pronounced during these warmer seasons and is subject to interannual
Outside of the Rim Current, numerous quasi-permanent coastal eddies
are formed as a result of upwelling around the coastal apron and "wind
curl" mechanisms. The intra-annual strength of these features is
controlled by seasonal atmospheric and fluvial variations. During the
Batumi eddy forms in the southeastern corner of the
Beneath the surface waters—from about 50–100 meters—there exists
a halocline that stops at the Cold Intermediate Layer (CIL). This
layer is composed of cool, salty surface waters, which are the result
of localized atmospheric cooling and decreased fluvial input during
the winter months. It is the remnant of the winter surface mixed
layer. The base of the CIL is marked by a major pycnocline at
about 100–200 metres (330–660 ft) and this density disparity
is the major mechanism for isolation of the deep water.
Below the pycnocline is the Deep Water mass, where salinity increases
to 22.3 psu and temperatures rise to around 8.9 °C. The
hydrochemical environment shifts from oxygenated to anoxic, as
bacterial decomposition of sunken biomass utilizes all of the free
oxygen. Weak geothermal heating and long residence time create a very
thick convective bottom layer.
Because of the anoxic water at depth, organic matter, including
anthropogenic artifacts such as boat hulls, are well preserved. During
periods of high surface productivity, short-lived algal blooms form
organic rich layers known as sapropels. Scientists have reported an
annual phytoplankton bloom that can be seen in many NASA images of the
region. As a result of these characteristics the
Black Sea has
gained interest from the field of marine archaeology as ancient
shipwrecks in excellent states of preservation have been discovered,
such as the
Byzantine wreck Sinop D, located in the anoxic layer off
the coast of Sinop, Turkey.
Modelling shows the release of the hydrogen sulfide clouds in the
event of an asteroid impact into the
Black Sea would pose a threat to
health—or even life—for people living on the
Black Sea coast.
There have been isolated reports of flares on the
Black Sea occurring
during thunderstorms, possibly caused by lightning igniting
combustible gas seeping up from the sea depths.
See also: List of fish of the Black Sea
The port of Poti, Georgia
Black Sea supports an active and dynamic marine ecosystem,
dominated by species suited to the brackish, nutrient-rich,
conditions. As with all marine food webs, the
Black Sea features a
range of trophic groups, with autotrophic algae, including diatoms and
dinoflagellates, acting as primary producers. The fluvial systems
draining Eurasia and central Europe introduce large volumes of
sediment and dissolved nutrients into the Black Sea, but distribution
of these nutrients is controlled by the degree of physiochemical
stratification, which is, in turn, dictated by seasonal physiographic
During winter, strong wind promotes convective overturning and
upwelling of nutrients, while high summer temperatures result in a
marked vertical stratification and a warm, shallow mixed layer.
Day length and insolation intensity also controls the extent of the
photic zone. Subsurface productivity is limited by nutrient
availability, as the anoxic bottom waters act as a sink for reduced
nitrate, in the form of ammonia. The benthic zone also plays an
important role in
Black Sea nutrient cycling, as chemosynthetic
organisms and anoxic geochemical pathways recycle nutrients which can
be upwelled to the photic zone, enhancing productivity.
In total, Black Sea's biodiversity contains around one-third of
Mediterranean's, and is experiencing natural and artificial invasions
Phytoplankton blooms and plumes of sediment form the bright blue
swirls that ring the
Black Sea in this 2004 image
The main phytoplankton groups present in the
Black Sea are
dinoflagellates, diatoms, coccolithophores and cyanobacteria.
Generally, the annual cycle of phytoplankton development comprises
significant diatom and dinoflagellate-dominated spring production,
followed by a weaker mixed assemblage of community development below
the seasonal thermocline during summer months and a
surface-intensified autumn production. This pattern of
productivity is also augmented by an
Emiliania huxleyi bloom during
the late spring and summer months.
Annual dinoflagellate distribution is defined by an extended bloom
period in subsurface waters during the late spring and summer. In
November, subsurface plankton production is combined with surface
production, due to vertical mixing of water masses and nutrients such
as nitrite. The major bloom-forming dinoflagellate species in the
Black Sea is
Gymnodinium sp. Estimates of dinoflagellate diversity
Black Sea range from 193 to 267 species. This level of
species richness is relatively low in comparison to the Mediterranean
Sea, which is attributable to the brackish conditions, low water
transparency and presence of anoxic bottom waters. It is also possible
that the low winter temperatures below 4 °C (39 °F) of the
Black Sea prevent thermophilous species from becoming established. The
relatively high organic matter content of
Black Sea surface water
favour the development of heterotrophic (an organism which uses
organic carbon for growth) and mixotrophic dinoflagellates species
(able to exploit different trophic pathways), relative to autotrophs.
Despite its unique hydrographic setting, there are no confirmed
endemic dinoflagellate species in the Black Sea.
Black Sea is populated by many species of marine diatom, which
commonly exist as colonies of unicellular, non-motile auto- and
heterotrophic algae. The life-cycle of most diatoms can be described
as 'boom and bust' and the
Black Sea is no exception, with diatom
blooms occurring in surface waters throughout the year, most reliably
during March. In simple terms, the phase of rapid population
growth in diatoms is caused by the in-wash of silicon-bearing
terrestrial sediments, and when the supply of silicon is exhausted,
the diatoms begin to sink out of the photic zone and produce resting
cysts. Additional factors such as predation by zooplankton and
ammonium-based regenerated production also have a role to play in the
annual diatom cycle. Typically, Proboscia alata blooms during
spring and Pseudosolenia calcar-avis blooms during the autumn.
Coccolithophores are a type of motile, autotrophic phytoplankton that
produce CaCO3 plates, known as coccoliths, as part of their life
cycle. In the Black Sea, the main period of coccolithophore growth
occurs after the bulk of the dinoflagellate growth has taken place. In
May, the dinoflagellates move below the seasonal thermocline, into
deeper waters, where more nutrients are available. This permits
coccolithophores to utilise the nutrients in the upper waters, and by
the end of May, with favourable light and temperature conditions,
growth rates reach their highest. The major bloom forming species is
Emiliania huxleyi, which is also responsible for the release of
dimethyl sulfide into the atmosphere. Overall, coccolithophore
diversity is low in the Black Sea, and although recent sediments are
dominated by E. huxleyi, Braarudosphaera bigelowii,
have also been shown to contain Helicopondosphaera and Discolithina
Cyanobacteria are a phylum of picoplanktonic (plankton ranging in size
from 0.2 to 2.0 µm) bacteria that obtain their energy via
photosynthesis, and are present throughout the world's oceans. They
exhibit a range of morphologiies, including filamentous colonies and
biofilms. In the Black Sea, several species are present, and as an
example, Synechococcus spp. can be found throughout the photic zone,
although concentration decreases with increasing depth. Other factors
which exert an influence on distribution include nutrient
availability, predation and salinity.
Black Sea along with the
Caspian Sea is part of the Zebra mussel's
native range. The mussel has been accidentally introduced around the
world and become an invasive species where it has been introduced.
The Common Carp's native range extends to The
Black Sea along with the
Caspian Sea and Aral Sea. Like the
Zebra mussel the
Common Carp is an
invasive species when introduced to other habitats.
Is another native fish that is also found in the Caspian Sea. It preys
upon Zebra mussels. Like the mussels and common carp it has become
invasive when introduced to other environments, like the Great Lakes.
Marine Mammals and marine megafaunas
Marine mammals present within the basin include two species of
dolphins (common and bottlenose) and harbour porpoise
inhabit the sea although all of these are endangered due to pressures
and impacts by human activities. All the three species have been
classified as a distinct subspecies from those in the Mediterranean
and in Atlantic Seas and endemic to Black and Azov Seas, and are more
active during nights in Turkish Straits. However, construction of
Strait Bridge caused increases in nutrients and planktons in
the waters, attracting large numbers of fish and more than 1,000 of
bottlenose dolphins. On the other hand, however, others claim that
construction may cause devastating damages on ecosystem including
Mediterranean monk seals were historically
abundant in Black Sea, and are regarded to have become extinct from
the basin since in 1997. Monk seals were present at the Snake
Island until 1950s, and several locations such as the
Nature Reserve (ru) and
Doğankent were last of hauling-out sites
in post-1990. Very few animals still thrive in the Sea of
Ongoing Mediterranizations may or may not boost in increases of
cetacean diversity in Turkish Straits hence in Black and Azov
Various species of pinnipeds, sea otter, and beluga whales
were introduced into the
Black Sea by mankind and later escaped either
by accidental or purported causes. Of these, grey seal and beluga
whales have been recorded with successful, long-term occurrences.
Great white sharks are known to reach into the
Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara and
Strait and basking shark into
Dardanelles although it is
unclear whether or not these sharks may reach into the Black and Azov
Common dolphins porpoising with a ferry at
Ecological effects of pollution
Since the 1960s, rapid industrial expansion along the
Black Sea coast
line and the construction of a major dam has significantly increased
annual variability in the N:P:Si ratio in the basin. In coastal areas,
the biological effect of these changes has been an increase in the
frequency of monospecific phytoplankton blooms, with diatom bloom
frequency increasing by a factor of 2.5 and non-diatom bloom frequency
increasing by a factor of 6. The non-diatoms, such as the
Emiliania huxleyi (coccolithophore), Chromulina sp.,
and the Euglenophyte Eutreptia lanowii are able to out-compete diatom
species because of the limited availability of Si, a necessary
constituent of diatom frustules. As a consequence of these blooms,
benthic macrophyte populations were deprived of light, while anoxia
caused mass mortality in marine animals.
The decline in macrophytes was further compounded by overfishing
during the 1970s, while the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis reduced the
biomass of copepods and other zooplankton in the late 1980s.
Additionally, an alien species—the warty comb jelly (Mnemiopsis
leidyi)—was able to establish itself in the basin, exploding from a
few individuals to an estimated biomass of one billion metric
tons. The change in species composition in
Black Sea waters also
has consequences for hydrochemistry, as Ca-producing coccolithophores
influence salinity and pH, although these ramifications have yet to be
fully quantified. In central
Black Sea waters, Si levels were also
significantly reduced, due to a decrease in the flux of Si associated
with advection across isopycnal surfaces. This phenomenon demonstrates
the potential for localised alterations in
Black Sea nutrient input to
have basin-wide effects.
Pollution reduction and regulation efforts have led to a partial
recovery of the
Black Sea ecosystem during the 1990s, and an EU
monitoring exercise, 'EROS21', revealed decreased N and P values,
relative to the 1989 peak. Recently, scientists have noted signs
of ecological recovery, in part due to the construction of new sewage
treatment plants in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and
connection with membership in the European Union. Mnemiopsis leidyi
populations have been checked with the arrival of another alien
species which feeds on them.
Hermit crab, Diogenes pugilator
Black Sea Common Dolphins with a kite-surfer off Sochi
Statues of a man and a tiger, on the way to Mount Akhun.
In the past, the range of the
Asiatic lion extended from
South Asia to
the Balkans, possibly up to the Danube. Places like
Turkey and the
Caucasus were in this range. The
Caspian tiger occurred in
Turkey and the Caucasus, at least. The lyuti zver (Old Russian
for "fierce animal") that was encountered by Vladimir II Monomakh,
Velikiy Kniaz of
Kievan Rus' (which ranged to the
Black Sea in the
south), may have been a tiger or leopard, rather than a wolf or
lynx, due to the way it behaved towards him and his horse.
The ice on the Gulf of Odessa
Short-term climatic variation in the
Black Sea region is significantly
influenced by the operation of the North Atlantic oscillation, the
climatic mechanisms resulting from the interaction between the north
Atlantic and mid-latitude air masses. While the exact mechanisms
causing the North Atlantic Oscillation remain unclear, it is
thought the climate conditions established in western Europe mediate
the heat and precipitation fluxes reaching Central Europe and Eurasia,
regulating the formation of winter cyclones, which are largely
responsible for regional precipitation inputs and influence
Mediterranean Sea Surface Temperatures (SST's).
The relative strength of these systems also limits the amount of cold
air arriving from northern regions during winter. Other
influencing factors include the regional topography, as depressions
and storms systems arriving from the
Mediterranean are funneled
through the low land around the Bosphorus, Pontic and Caucasus
mountain ranges acting as wave guides, limiting the speed and paths of
cyclones passing through the region.
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There are some islands in the Black sea that belong to Bulgaria,
Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine:
St.Thomas Island - Bulgaria
St.Anastasia Island - Bulgaria
St.Cyricus Island - Bulgaria
St.Ivan Island - Bulgaria
St.Peter Island - Bulgaria
Sacalinu Mare Island - Romania
Sacalinu Mic Island - Romania
Novaya Zemliya - Romania
Dzharylgach Island - Ukraine
Zmiinyi (Snake) Island - Ukraine
Mediterranean connection during the Holocene
The Bosphorus, taken from the International Space Station
Map of the Dardanelles
Black Sea is connected to the
World Ocean by a chain of two
shallow straits, the
Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. The
55 m (180 ft) deep and the
Bosphorus is as shallow as
36 m (118 ft). By comparison, at the height of the last ice
age, sea levels were more than 100 m (330 ft) lower than
they are now.
There is also evidence that water levels in the
Black Sea were
considerably lower at some point during the post-glacial period. Some
researchers theorize that the
Black Sea had been a landlocked
freshwater lake (at least in upper layers) during the last glaciation
and for some time after.
In the aftermath of the last glacial period, water levels in the Black
Sea and the
Aegean Sea rose independently until they were high enough
to exchange water. The exact timeline of this development is still
subject to debate. One possibility is that the
Black Sea filled first,
with excess fresh water flowing over the
Bosphorus sill and eventually
Mediterranean Sea. There are also catastrophic scenarios,
such as the "
Black Sea deluge theory" put forward by William Ryan,
Walter Pitman and Petko Dimitrov.
Black Sea deluge hypothesis
Black Sea deluge is a hypothesized catastrophic rise in the level
Black Sea circa 5600 BC due to waters from the Mediterranean
Sea breaching a sill in the
Bosporus Strait. The hypothesis was
The New York Times
The New York Times published it in December 1996,
shortly before it was published in an academic journal. While it
is agreed that the sequence of events described did occur, there is
debate over the suddenness, dating and magnitude of the events.
Relevant to the hypothesis is that its description has led some to
connect this catastrophe with prehistoric flood myths.
A medieval map of the
Black Sea by Diogo Homem.
Greek colonies (8th–3rd century BCE) of the
Black Sea (Euxine, or
Black Sea was a busy waterway on the crossroads of the ancient
Balkans to the west, the Eurasian steppes to the north,
Caucasus and Central Asia to the east, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia to
the south, and
Greece to the south-west.
The oldest processed gold in the world was found in Varna, and the
Black Sea was supposedly sailed by the Argonauts. The land at the
eastern end of the Black Sea, Colchis, (now Georgia), marked for the
Greeks the edge of the known world.
The steppes to the north of the
Black Sea have been suggested as the
original homeland (Urheimat) of the speakers of the
Proto-Indo-European language, (PIE) the progenitor of the
Indo-European language family, by some scholars such as Marija
Gimbutas; others move the heartland further east towards the Caspian
Sea, yet others to Anatolia.
Black Sea became an
Ottoman Navy lake within five years of Genoa
Crimea in 1479, after which the only Western merchant
vessels to sail its waters were those of Venice's old rival Ragusa.
This restriction was gradually changed by the
Russian Navy from 1783
until the relaxation of export controls in 1789 because of the French
Black Sea was a significant naval theatre of World War I and saw
both naval and land battles during World War II.
Black Sea Fleet in the Bay of Theodosia, just before
the Crimean War
Ancient trade routes in the region are currently[when?] being
extensively studied by scientists, as the
Black Sea was sailed by
Hittites, Carians, Colchians, Thracians, Greeks, Persians, Cimmerians,
Scythians, Romans, Byzantines, Goths, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Slavs,
Varangians, Crusaders, Venetians, Genoese, Lithuanians, Georgians,
Poles, Tatars, Ottomans, and Russians.
Perhaps the most promising areas in deepwater archaeology are the
quest for submerged prehistoric settlements in the continental shelf
and for ancient shipwrecks in the anoxic zone, which are expected to
be exceptionally well preserved due to the absence of oxygen. This
concentration of historical powers, combined with the preservative
qualities of the deep anoxic waters of the Black Sea, has attracted
increased interest from marine archaeologists who have begun to
discover a large number of ancient ships and organic remains in a high
state of preservation.
Amasra, Turkey, is located on a small island in the Black Sea
Commercial and civic use
According to NATO, the Black sea is a strategic corridor that provides
smuggling channels for moving legal and illegal goods including drugs,
radioactive materials, and counterfeit goods that can be used to
Ports and ferry terminals
According to the
International Transport Workers' Federation
International Transport Workers' Federation 2013
study, there were at least 30 operating merchant seaports in the Black
Sea (including at least 12 in Ukraine).
Merchant fleet and traffic
According to the
International Transport Workers' Federation
International Transport Workers' Federation 2013
study, there were around 2,400 commercial vessels operating in the
Anchovy: the Turkish commercial fishing fleet catches around 300,000
tons per year on average, and fishery carried out mainly in winter and
the highest portion of the stock is caught between November and
Since the 1980s, the
Soviet Union started offshore drilling for
petroleum in the sea's western portion (adjoining Ukraine's coast).
Ukraine continued and intensified that effort within
its exclusive economic zone, inviting major international oil
companies for exploration. Discovery of the new, massive oilfields in
the area stimulated an influx of foreign investments. It also provoked
a short-term peaceful territorial dispute with
Romania which was
resolved in 2011 by an international court redefining the exclusive
economic zones between the two countries.
Holiday resorts and spas
Cities of the Black Sea
In the years following the end of the Cold War, the popularity of the
Black Sea as a tourist destination steadily increased.
Black Sea resorts became one of the region's growth industries.
The following is a list of notable
Black Sea resort towns:
2 Mai (Romania)
Alupka (Crimea, Russia/
Alushta (Crimea, Russia/
Cap Aurora (Romania)
Constantine and Helena (Bulgaria)
Eupatoria (Crimea, Russia/
Foros (Crimea, Russia/
Feodosiya (Crimea, Russia/
Gagra (Abkhazia, Georgia[a])
Golden Sands (Bulgaria)
Gurzuf (Crimea, Russia/
Hopa (Artvin, Turkey)
Koktebel (Crimea, Russia/
Pitsunda (Abkhazia, Georgia[a])
Sudak (Crimea, Russia/
Sunny Beach (Bulgaria)
Sveti Vlas (Bulgaria)
Vama Veche (Romania)
Yalta (Crimea, Russia/
Soviet frigate Bezzavetny (right) bumping the USS Yorktown during the
Black Sea bumping incident.
Ukrainian Navy artillery boat U170 in the Bay of Sevastopol
Modern military use
International and military use of the Straits
The 1936 Montreux Convention provides for a free passage of civilian
ships between the international waters of the Black and the
Mediterranean Seas. However, a single country (Turkey) has a complete
control over the straits connecting the two seas. The 1982 amendments
to the Montreux Convention allow
Turkey to close the Straits at its
discretion in both wartime and peacetime.
The 1936 Montreux Convention governs the passage of vessels between
the Black and the
Mediterranean Seas and the presence of military
vessels belonging to non-littoral states in the
Black Sea waters.
Black Sea Euroregion, Superior Prut and Lower Danube,
Black Sea Games, and Organization of the
Black Sea Economic
1927 Crimean earthquakes
Black Sea shipwrecks
Black Sea Coast
Internationalization of the
Karadeniz Technical University
Black Sea resorts
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