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Black Sea Circulation and Physical Processes
Glen Gawarkiewicz, Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution
November 18, 1998

The asyssal plain of the Black Sea is approximately 2000 m deep. The shelf area of the sea comprises about 25% of the areal Black Sea region.

Oszoy and Unluata published a paper in 1998 on the fresh water balance of the Black Sea. They calculated the following water exchange in the Black Sea basin:

Rivers provide 350 km3/yr. The Danube River accounts for nearly 50% of the river runoff into the sea.

Precipitation accounts for 300 km3/yr

Evaporation removes 300 km3/yr

Outflow through the Bosporus accounts for 350 km3/yr.

The temperature minimum occurs 50-100 m deep.

Surface salinity is approximately 18 parts per thousand, increasing to 22 ppt at depth.

Saline water from the Mediterranean Sea trickles into the Black Sea along the bottom of the Bosporus and spreads across the bottom of the Black Sea. The less saline water of the sea flows from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean above this counter-flowing saline layer.

The most important current feature in the Black Sea is a cyclonic rim current which follows the topography of the shelf break. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiles observed in the early 1990s show a strong current flow off Sinop at a depth of 10 m. This flow rate was 80 cm/second to the northeast of Sinop, nearly 2 knots. This coastal current is 10 km wide in its maximum core region.

1. Strongest current is rim current along upper continental slope.
2. Eddy and meander patterns are highly variable and linked to topography.
3. Off Sinop a strong eastward/northeastward current flows up to 1 m/second.




Deep Water Archaeology Research Group
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Ave. Rm e51-194
Cambridge, MA 02139



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