The Europaen Commission The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution
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Report Contents

List of Tables List of Figures

Final ¨Diagnostic Report¨ to guide improvements to the regular reporting process on the state of the Black Sea environment, August 2010

2002 - 2007

Diagnostic Report to guide improvements to the regular reporting process on the state of the Black Sea environment

Section III: Conclusions and recommendations

A summary of suitability of Black Sea data collections (in BSIS and external data sources) to the BSC and EEA indicators and MSFD descriptors together with proposed methodologies is presented below (Table 13).

Table 13. Summary of suitability of Black Sea data collection (of BSIS and external data sources) to the BSC and EEA indicators and MSFD descriptors together with proposed methodologies.

Indicator group Indicator name / type BSC indicators EEA-CSI MSFD-GES descriptors EEA- method requirements Other Proposed Reliable methodology Suitability of BS data according to BSIS Suitability of BS data according to other data sources
Eutrophication NO3+NO2 (S) Y Y Y (D.5) winter, 0-10 m, coastal (<20 km) and offshore (>20 km)data, time-series of at least 3-5 yrs at selected stations to be aggregated by selected  month and depth and run for trend analysis  Not only winter but also spring concentrations to be considered b/c of increased river inputs to the coastal surface waters     Y      Y    
PO4 (S) Y Y (D.5) "    Y Y
N/P (S)   Y   "    Y Y
Chlorophyll-a (S) Y* Y Y (D.5)  summer, surface chl, min 3 yrs of data in the last 10 years and min 5 yrs of data in 15-20 yrs. * EEA methodology requires summer surface concentrations. This is not satisfactory for BS where chl conc show peaks in late winter, late spring and strong autumn peaks not only in the surface but also in subsurface layer  (BS SoE, 2008) Not enough data, limited only reporting to 1-2 States   Y  Need to be tested    
* Ocean color in support of Chl-a (S)  N N  N   * SeaWiFS data  1998-2007 was used in the SoE Report (2008) and compared with in situ data where available. It is recommended to be used widely in the basin as indicator of chl.  N      Y Analyses needed, effort to further develop algorithms, verification by ground-trith data To be further discussed and tested
Hypoxic situations , expansion of zones of hypoxia (I) Y* N Y (D.5,D.6,D.7)   * Hypoxia  (<2 mg/l) in the NWS is not only related to eutrophication but also circulation, meteorological and strafication conditions. SoE (2008 Fig.2.5.1) Bottom water oxy values in summer and autumn is a good indicator in coastal waters.  Y   Limited Data available Could be tested Y   Data available Could be tested
Harmful algal blooms (I) N N Y (D.5)    Species dominance/frequency of occurrence etc. Considered. Needs further expert work on phytoplankton Y
  Primary Production   N N Y (D.5)     N   Considered.Limited information Needs further expert work
Hazardous substances and oil (contamination HSs in biota (S) Y Y Y (D.8,D.9) temporal trends for each station at the same time of the year. Hg, Cd, Pb and the POPs (HCB, Lindane, PCBs,DDT) in mussels and fish. Reminder: In addition to EEA methodology: 1) statistically sound sampling strategy2) EOM data for normalization NConsidered.Very limited data available.  Considered. Limited data.
HSs in sediments (S) Y Y? Y (D.8) Same above : in sediments Reminder: In addition to EEA methodology: 1) statistically sound sampling strategy2) Normalization and enrichment values to be considered N Still can be tested with few data sets already available for more than 5 yrs. Considered. Limited data.        
Biological effects (I) N N Y (D.8)     Not yet considered Not yet considered ?
Shipping Discharge of oil from refineries  and offshore installations (P) N Y  N      1) Discharges from refineries based on measurements of oil in refineries effluents 2) Discharges from offshore installations including from production water, drill cuttings, spills and flaring operations.    N     N    
Illegal discharges of oil at sea (P) Y Y  N    1) actual number of slicks observed per hour of surveillance flying ; slicks <1m3 not to be considered 2) JRC 2001- compilation of satellite images    N  Poor reporting. Considered by contract with EMSA for provision of satellite images  N  Poor reporting 
Accidental oil spills from shipping (P) Y Y  N In numbers    Y    Y
Shipping density (P) Y N  N    ?  Y  Y
Loads Inputs of nutrients and HSs from direct (point) sources (P) Y N  Y (D.5)   1)Monthly monitoring of river water discharges and contaminant levels2) Trend analysis when data sets are suitable   Considered fpr municipal, industrial Hot spots and rivers. Y, Considered
Litter Amount/composition/sources   N N  Y (D.10)      N  Considered. Not as regular monitoring. An assessment was made. 
Biodiversity biomass of macroalgae Y N Y (D.1,D.5,D.6) Annual and seasonal variability /trends    Y, limited data  Y
Species composition  / number of species / species richness Y N (species diversity only) Y(D.1,D.5,D.6)      Y  Y
Macroalgae Distribution Y N Y(D.1,D.5,D.6) Area coverage    Y  Y
Seagrasses            N  Y
NIS/IAS Y N Y (D.2)     Y Y
Designated Areas Y Y       Y Y
Threatened and protected species Y Y       Y Y
Fisheries and aquaculture Fishing fleet capacity / fishing effort (P) Y      Y  Y
Stock biomass (S) and its sub-indicators Y Y  Y (D.3)      Y  Y
Catches / biomass    Y (D.3)    Trends  Y  Y
Total landings              Y
Fishing mortality Y* N Y (D.3)   * derived with analytical methods Y (see Annex  ıv) Y
Spawning Stock Biomass Y* N Y (D.3)   Y Y
Aqua. Production Y N N     Y  Y
Climate change SST N N N    See II.4.8  Y
SLR Y* N N   See II.4.8 * as ICZM indicator    Y
Northward movement of species  N Y N    
Total number of Med sps /expansion area N N N   Temporal variation in numbers of Med sps and spatial coverage N Y (see Annex v)
Invasive species  diversity and abundance Y N Y(D.1,D.5,D.6)     Limited data Y
Bathing waters Chemical and microbiological parameters Y Y N     N Y

On the basis of the numbers of BS indicator that exist in relation to the EEA and MSFD needs the following concusions were drawn. Among the eutrophication indicators (inorganic nutrients, chlorophyll and N/P ratio), N/P is not specifically reported to the BSC but as a generic indicator it can be easily derived from BSIS. Chlorophyll is poorly reported to the BSC and the data cannot be used for a regional assessment. However, outside of BSIS Chlorophyll data are available and suitable to build trends and maps of spatial distributon.   Nutrients data in BSIS is suitable to trace trends and spatial distribution in coastal waters, but not in the open-sea.

Expansion of hypoxia zones (BSC and MSFD indicator) can not be traced based on BSIS data, however, data are available in the region.

Harmful algal blooms (MSFD indicator) are regularly studied in the Black Sea, the BSIS data are not enough to support this indicator, however, external data are sufficient for regional assessments. Primary production (MSFD indicator) is not regularly studied in the Black Sea to build statistically  significant trends or spatial distributions. There are no data in BSIS, and outside of BSIMAP different methods are used to measure primary production, therefore the data are not suitable for comparisons. IBSS-Sevastopol developed equations to calculate primary production from Chlorophyll, specifically for the Black Sea. The method should be verified by other Institutes. 

Hazardous substances in biota, sediments (BSC, EEA, MSFD indicators) and their effects (MSFD indicator) are studied in the Black Sea sporadically, the data are not sufficient for regional assessments yet. 

Discharge of oil from refineries and offshore installations (EEA indicator) is not reported to the BSC, there is no information on the availability of data in the region. Illegal discharges of oil from ships (BSC, EEA indicator) are considered, EMSA provides satellite images in case of suspected oil spill, however, verification of spills (aerial surveillance, for instance) is still poorly provided by states.

Loads (BSC, MSFD) are well reported to the BSC, data are sufficient for hot spots and rivers. Marine Litter (MSFD) is not a component of the BSIMAP, data outside of BSIS are available, however, assessments are possible for ML on the coast, but not in the Sea and on its bottom.

Most of the BSC Biodiversity indicators are also EEA and MSFD indicators, however, the data supporting those indicators for macroalgal communities in the BSIS are limited, for seagrassess not reported, outside of BSIS available and suitable for building indicators. MPAs are well reported to the BSC, together with threatened and protected species.

Those BSC Fishery indicators which appear also as EEA and MSFD indicators are well reported to the BSC, however, stock assessments for most of the fish species are in need for harmonization.

The EEA indicator North-ward movement of species is not reported to the BSC, however, scientific studies in the region are available. Invasive species diversity and abundance (BSC, MSFD) are poorly reported to the BSC. Data outside of BSIS are suitable for the indicators calculation.  

Bathing waters data are regularly collected in all Black Sea states, data outside of BSIS are sufficient for tracing compliance with established standards (not yet harmonized in the region).

Summary of Gaps in monitoring and in the reported data, reasons for these gaps (including capacity and related issues) and who is responsible for or has a role in relation to them.

Major gap in BSIMAP: the monitoring is mainly not integrated.

BS states Ministries of Environment nominate Institutions which monitor pressures, state and impacts in the Black Sea in the frames of the National Monitoring Systems and report data to BSIS. In most of the states the monitoring is spread in between different Institutions, frequently with overlapping of efforts/observations. Often the reporting comes to the BSC in the following way: hydrochemistry/hydrophysics/hydrology is reported by one Institute and hydrobiology by another one (from the same state). The checks show that the reported hydrobiological and hydrochemical/hydrophysical/hydrological observations do not take place at the same stations and at the same time.  Therefore, the data collected in this manner are not a product of an integrated monitoring program/strategy and cannot be used for ecosystem-based approach to assessments of Black Sea environment status. The latter does not mean that integrated monitoring in the Black Sea does not completely exist. There are many Institutes in the region performing observations in an integrated manner. However, the National Monitoring Systems are not properly designed/organized to utilize the integrated monitoring available and correspondingly the reporting to the BSC reflects this non-holistic approach. The only exception is the reporting of Romania, where the SoE monitoring is integrated (carried out by a single Institute) and all observations on the state of the Black Sea environment take place in the long-term run at the same stations, with the same frequency and covering the full set of parameters agreed under BSIMAP.

Other BSIMAP major gaps in 2001-2010 (taking into consideration the requirements of BSIMAP and MSFD) can be listed as follows:

  1. recommended frequency of observations (identified in BSIMAP in line with WFD) is not always observed;
  2. mandatory parameters are often not covered;
  3. open-sea stations are missing no agreed stations for a regular monitoring;
  4. reference stations mainly missing or not specified as such, except Romania;
  5. long-term time series data stations lack special attention and permanent financial support;
  6. poor coordination between responsible authorities;
  7. poor financial assistance, in general;
  8. regional dimension absent;
  9. BSIMAP stations are mainly coastal, very few marine stations;
  10. monitoring does not use much automated systems and other modern tools of observations;
  11. lack of harmonization (especially in fisheries).

The gaps in the reporting are directly related to the gaps in the monitoring and the reasons are different in the different Black Sea states. However, the main problems by state are as follows:

Bulgaria national monitoring program not well established, lack of integration, poor coordination in between responsible organizations, lack of financial assistance, overlapping of activities.

Georgia national monitoring program not well established, lack of integration, poor coordination in between responsible organizations, lack of financial assistance.

Romania no gaps in national monitoring, needed more stable financial assistance.

Russian Federation too many organizations involved in the monitoring, lack of integration, complicated structure of national monitoring program, poor coordination in between responsible organizations, overlapping of activities.

Turkey no gaps in national monitoring, however the frequency of observations (twice a year) is insufficient. Biology component needs better integration.

Ukraine lack of integration, insufficient coordination in between responsible organizations, lack of stable financial assistance.

Recommendations for improving of monitoring activities

The need for further development/reconstruction of BSIMAP relates to regional priorities recently identified (climate change, for instance) or reconfirmed major environment concerns (eutrophication, pollution, biodiversity change, habitats destruction, overfishing) which are calling for broadening of scope of investigations and expertise, utilization of new approaches and techniques.

Thus, the BS Monitoring Strategy for 20112020 should further develop the existing practices (filling the gaps in agreed already observations, improve geographical coverage, etc.) and encompass new issues as well as the development of new methodologies and tools. Issues of particular importance include: (a) the relation to climate change and climate change policies; (b) the development of tools for integrated regional assessment of BS state (simultaneous observations in  all countries, including cruises for Marine Living Resources (MLR) stock assessments, etc.); (c) regular open sea observations; (d) development of networks (reference stations, trends stations/transects in transitional, coastal and marine waters, marine mammals strandings and by-catch, etc.); (e) cumulative effects and transboundary environment problems; (f) screening for new pollutants; (g) pollution incidents; (h) habitat mapping; (j) air pollution (or contract with EMEP); (i) ballast water monitoring; (k) marine litter; (l) hazardous substances transportation and others.

Creation of network of reference sites and stations is proposed to have 3 levels of organization:

Level 1 All existing national monitoring sites in Black Sea countries will continue with national funding. Station network may comprise 5-20 coastal (including marine and transitional waters) stations per country with different levels of anthropogenic impact and pollution.  Different monitoring components should be designed to be integrated as much as possible.

Level 2 National integrated sites in which programmes with a suite of hydrological, hydrochemical and hydrobiological observations (including measurements of most of the pollutants) are to be implemented with national funding. A minimum 3 sites per country (1 with high anthropogenic impact, 1 with moderate level and 1 with low level of anthropogenic impact) is recommended.

Level 3 An international reference sites network (1 2 sites per country) with full programme of observations (hydrology, hydromorphology, hydrochemistry, hydrobiology, atmospheric and marine environment pollution, etc.) is needed. This can be funded by national sources, EU, UNEP and other donors.

For all proposed levels, it will be necessary to combine the efforts of different institutions at the national level to fulfill the requirements of an integrated monitoring system and as well to establish a national system for marine data collection and management or to strengthen the functioning of existing national data depository system (example of NODCs). They should also be able to communicate with international reporting systems (e.g. of BSIS of BSC, EEA and others).

Specific revisions for the present BSIMAP monitoring strategy are also recommended like the exclusion of contaminants monitoring in water since they are around the detection limits of the methods applied and usually not considered as reliable for routine monitoring. Instead, contaminants monitoring in biota and sediments to detect temporal trends could be strongly recommended.

Answers to all policy questions of  BSIMAP as well as the indicator based assessments as an integral part of the pan-European marine assessments carried out by EEA require improvement and harmonization of methodologies used in the BS region to assure compatibility of data collected. For instance, data sets of TPH of different states can hardly be compared due to different methodologies used in samples processing. The same stands for phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish stocks, etc. The BSC has checked and assured the compatibility of data for nutrients, trace metals and pesticides. Stock assessments are harmonized for sprat and turbot only. River monitoring strategies are not fully harmonized. Further harmonization activities are envisaged in the Work Plan of the BSC for 2010 and will continue after.   

New observation techniques need to be developed: near real time observations (multi sensor buoys and marine stations/platforms), GEOSS and GMES capacities used in the region; satellite and aerial surveillance.

National research and monitoring activities constitute an indispensable part of a well functioning present BSIMAP. However, regional component is absent in the Program and it should build on international agreements under the umbrella of the BSC for joint ventures based on common (and transboundary) environmental problems seeking for a regional solution.

Initial step for a regional dimension could be: BS pilot programmes in all states waters undertaken in a harmonized way and transboundary problem-driven, such as:

  1. Fish and other marine living resources stock assessments
  2. Cetaceans surveys
  3. Marine Litter in the sea
  4. Contamination of sediments and biota
  5. Habitats mapping, biodiversity assessments, etc.

(The proposed investigations above can be listed as insufficiently studied domains in the existing monitoring system at present).

Supporting activities:

  • Utilization of the capacities of all Institutes dealing with monitoring in the region (not only those, which are officially nominated by the Ministries so far). Bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements to be developed.
  • Avoiding overlapping of activities and efforts often two or more Institutes undertake observations in the same area without proper coordination (best example is the Kerch accident).
  • Partnership with international organizations EEA, IMO, ESA, EMSA, HELCOM, utilizing their experience.
  • Capacity building regular trainings, bringing best available practices to the region, strengthening the collaboration between different authorities engaged in monitoring, further development of inter-ministerial mechanism, etc.
  • Sharing - The data flow and dissemination of information (prepared reports based on data collected) within BSC as well as from BSC should be transparent, two-way and easily accessible by everybody. It is particularly important to develop further the Black Sea Information System and make its data and metadata services accessible online on the BSC website (which is in line with INSPIRE directive), and to make sure that the special information needs of stakeholders are met. The work carried out within the BS monitoring (at least meta data) should be transparent, interact with and enjoy the confidence of all the stakeholders, including local authorities, industry, nongovernmental organizations, expert institutions, public and other bodies.

Major targets in improvement of monitoring to fit into Pan-EU assessments:

  • Frequency of observations in line with WFD and MSFD (so far not always sustained properly, as mentioned above).
  • Proper geographical coverage include open sea.
  • Sustain stations and transects with long-terms observations

Note: The main gap is that most of these stations with historical data are in coastal waters. In the open sea (in the gyres) the observations are not regular, mainly carried out in the frames of projects. Open sea regular observations should be nationally supported (by the budgets of Ministries of Environment) as projects data reporting is not part of the national data reporting to BSIS obligations.  

  • Networks development, mandatory parameters covered.
  • Harmonization inter-comparison exercises, further development of guidelines, common understanding of GES, indicators, etc.
  • Quality control and assurance sustainable mode of implementation.

Crucial: Better coordination between authorities involved, less complicated organization and a strategy for integrated monitoring are the main challenges at the national level. Financial assistance provided in a sustainable way  is viatal to better coordinate and plan activities in monitoring and reporting.

Recommendations for improving of reporting process

The network of reporting institutions in the Black Sea should be further developed. The responsibilities in reporting to the BSC should be fully reorganized to encompass as much as possible the data collected in an integrated manner. Network of Monitoring stations and sites must be improved on the basis of above approach with established 3 level sites. Level 3 sites nominated and partly funded by National Authorities will report regularly directly to Secretariat and in parallel to national Authorities. All data from existing Level 2 and Level 1 sites and stations one time per year will be sent   to the Secretariat by each National Authority as national reports.  

Usually the projects (NATO, EC, UNDP/GEF, others) carry out different cruises, produce and store data. The regional data base (BSIS) should be proposed as the permanent domain for any data in the region produced by projects. Ownership and data exchange policy should be developed and sustained by the BSC in relation to major data-holders in the Black Sea region.

For the BSIS (when fully operational on-line) a link to WISE-marine could be considered. The BSIS reporting templates for eutrophication/pollution data are similar to EIONET templates.

For assessments sensu MSFD, Annex I descriptors, the BSIS is missing basically biological data (see Annex VII). In general, the marine biology, incl. biodiversity conservation and habitats data reporting, needs serious improvement and further development to meet the requirements of the evaluations, envisaged in the MSFD.

For wider assessments (sensu MSFD, Annex III) the major gaps in the BSIS itself (not in reporting) are:

  • marine meteorology;
  • physical oceanography;
  • sedimentology;
  • marine geology and geophysics, etc.
  • habitats destruction;
  • erosion;
  • GIS development.

Oceanographic data are reported to the National Oceanographic Data Centers in the BS region (not to BSIS), e.g. IO-BAS-Varna in Bulgaria, MHI-Sevastopol in Ukraine, etc. Meta data submission is harmonized through the project BlackSeaSCENE and available data sets can be found through SeaDataNet ( National Oceanographic Data Centres and Satellite Data Centres should be wider involved in the BSC network and linked to BSIS. 

In relation to the EMODNET process (BSC is an observer): as known, the Ur-EMODnet preparatory actions have been handled by four consortia as for hydrography, geology, chemistry, biology and broad scale habitats. Black Sea is included within the EMODNET Chemical Pilot Project (Chemistry Lot). Within the Chemistry Lot, Black Sea data have been evaluated for a period of 1960-2009 basically with the participation of 6 collating regional institutes and the BSC. More than 21,000 stations were recorded and evaluated with respect to matrix, parameter and institutes. The project is ongoing and the next evaluation of results will take place in May 2010. Seemingly, the involved institutes and meta data contributions to the project is limited.

Unfortunately, the Black Sea has not been foreseen as an area of interest in the other Lots.

In line with the EC Maritime Spatial Planning (EC Integrated Maritime Policy) the BSC aims to recommend and motivate the creation of maritime technologies that will aid the development of maritime activities in a way compatible with the good environmental status of the seas. In preparation for such recommendations the BSIS needs to be enlarged, incorporating new components related to navigation and marine infrustructures, shipping density, seefloor data,  energy projects, accidents, socio-economy, etc. All these new reporting and relevant data base (parts of BSIS) will be developed in the farmes of the MONINFO project (see Annex III).

Recommendations on how to improve the existing EEA indicator specifications, proposals for new indicators

The EEA CSI of indicators can be accepted as suitable for the Black Sea since almost all of them are already accepted indicators by the BSC (Table 13). The EEA methodologies for calculation of indicators are used in the Black Sea region and no recommendations for improvement arrive from BS experts.  

However, like for nutrients and chlorophyll, different seasons for data collection is recommended for the Black Sea. In winter and spring, surface waters of the Black Sea is enriched with nutrients, therefore, spring data should also be considered for aggregation and indicator evaluation. Surface values of chlorophyll might not be enough because of occurrence of deep chlorophyll maximum, seasonal surface maximums are different, vice versa.  When BSIS and external data sources are considered together, nutrient and chlorophyll data can be tested as indicators suitable for the Black Sea.      

The quality of marine|naval| environment|Wednesday| is directly related with the functioning of biological communities and indirectly with their structure. However classically, in BSC, in the Annexes of MSFD and practices of EEA, structural parameters are selected to build indicators. Within the scope of this work, regional experts have proposed a few more indicators to be considered (used in the Black Sea) which are based on functional parameters of biological communities. They are:

G. Minicheva (author) S/W (methodology/examples in Annex IV).

G. Shulman (author) fatness of sprat (methodology/examples in Annex IV).

For climate change:

E. Yakushev positioning of the CIL (cold intermediate layer) in the Black Sea.

and additionally organic nitrogen could be tested as indicator, where long term data is available (Sulina-Romania data set, Gelendizck-Russian data set), especially for coastal areas under the pressure of river inputs. Nutrients in sediments could be a valuable indicator of secondary eutrophication.

Other recommendations for indicator-based reporting

There are many Black Sea stations with long term regular observations. A full list of these stations and data collected at them will help to better test for BSC, EEA and MSFD indicators.

Also a common understanding in the region is needed for the definition of transitional, coastal and marine waters for indicator based analysis and assessments.

In relation to Fishery recommendations on monitoring and reporting are given in detail in Annex IV.

MSFD forward-looking component

There are some standardised methods (agreed methodologies) for monitoring and assessment in the Black Sea which ensure comparability of data/results as required by regional commitments and the MSFD, as mentioned above. Further work is needed for TPH, biota and fish stock assessments. Harmonization of river monitoring strategies, habitat mapping (using the same classification and methods), hot spots update.

GES identification in a harmonised way is in progress (a regional methodology in line with MSFD is drafted, pending for discussions and adoption). Reference conditions are identified in Bulgaria and Romania, in a similar way they will be proposed for development in non-EU states. Background values and water quality classes are known for Bulgaria, Romania, Russian Federation and Ukraine.

In general, for a wider regional assessment based on MSFD Annex III / Table 1 and Table II, the Black Sea basin monitoring activities (either covered by BSIMAP or other national programmes and projects ) may provide useful volumes of data for certain characteristics of the sea, pressures and impacts. In the Black Sea, biology (biodiversity and fisheries) is regularly monitored besides chemistry and hydrophysical variables which are a great advantage. However, all these efforts are not well integrated and coordinated at the national and regional scales, as mentioned above. Therefore, accessibility to all available data and information is a major gap. Another one is the spatial and temporal coverage of especially the biological variables. Besides, when the data compiled/overviewed for the present Report is considered, the major data gaps for the assessment of sea characteristics (Annex III/Table 1) are the data relevant to marine acidification and habitat types in some states. And for the pressures and impacts (Annex III/Table 2), data on physical loss, damage and other physical disturbances are the major missing parts in terms of data availability or accessibility. In terms of GES descriptors, data and information on D.4 (food webs) and D.11 (energy, under water noise) were not available and not evaluated within this report. Other descriptors are partially covered by Black Sea monitoring/reporting activities, as summarised in Table 13 (see also Annex VII).


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