Project Description

   In relation to its marine ecosystems, the Black Sea deserves increased vigilance and effective environmental management. This is primarily due to the fact that of all the basins of the world ocean, the environmental degradation in the Black Sea is the most severe. Environmental problems of the Black Sea are intimately related to the unique characteristics of the marine environment. The Black Sea is nearly landlocked and the ventilation of the deep waters by lateral influxes is poor. In addition, a strong density stratification effectively inhibits vertical mixing. As a result, permanent anoxia exists within 87% of the Black Seas volume, making the Black Sea the largest anoxic basin of the global ocean. Its surface area is five times smaller than its catchment basin, covering parts of the neighboring European and Asian continents where human activities impose environmental burdens on this basin. About 162 million people live in the catchment area of the Black Sea (Mee, 1992; Unluata et al., 1993). The health and wellbeing of these people are affected by the environmental degradation in the Black Sea.

   Adequate prediction of the environmental variability in the Black Sea is needed to identify, analyze and determine the costs of solutions for better management of the marine environment aimed for sustainable development of the Black Sea resources. Furthermore, the environmental management of the Black Sea and the related scientific and technological developments require an interdisciplinary and easily accessible Data Base Management System (DBMS) with user friendly interfaces for data reception, assembly, quality control, storage, continuous dissemination, and exchange.

Accordingly, there are two major objectives of the Project:

To explore, quantify and predict the ecosystem variability of the Black Sea through process studies and development of coupled interdisciplinary models with data assimilation schemes that will allow: prediction of the future states of the sea (FORECASTING); descriptions of the present (NOWCASTING) and the past states of the sea and displaying trends and changes (HINDCASTING).
To develop further the NATO Black Sea Data Base and Management System for management oriented operational marine forecasting and research, requiring transmission to a wide variety of users quality controlled data received from moored buoys, ships, drifting sensor arrays, fixed platforms and satellites, with stringent requirements in DBMS-to-USER transmission in delayed and / or near-real-time modes.

The specific objectives include:

To describe the physical and biochemical processes, explain and understand the mechanisms involved, and determine the extent of the predictability of the system on time scales of weeks to months, and space scales from several kilometers to several hundreds of kilometers (i.e., the mesoscale);
To accumulate quantitative understanding of the interactions between small-, meso- and large-scale physical and ecosystem processes;
To develop data assimilative general circulation and nested regional/coastal/shelf nowcast/forecast models capable of predicting the current, temperature, and salinity fields on time scales of a few weeks to several months;
To further develop coupled biochemical-physical interdisciplinary models to predict the variability of the lower trophic levels of the deep water and the coastal ecosystems as they are affected by anthropogenic forcing, synoptic variability, and climate fluctuations;
To upgrade software and hardware capabilities of the existing NATO Black Sea Data Base and Management System in regard to large volumes of data from observation systems;
To advance the data exchange capabilities among the Riparian States by developing new capabilities for handling satellite and meteorological data;
To rescue the existing interdisciplinary historical data sets, particularly to enable trend-monitoring for the purpose of environmental management;
Integrate the project activities with the creation of a regional Global Ocean Observations Systems (GOOS) program for the Black Sea under the sponsorship of national governments (to be implemented by the national agencies) by linking the predictive models with interdisciplinary data assimilation schemes to the observational network to be developed and making sure that the linkage also involves a module for designing optimum sensor- sampling configurations and specifications through theory and observations.

   Firstly, intensive field observations on specific processes (process studies) will be carried out for testing of the various crucial hypotheses. General analysis schemes will be developed for the identification and interpretation of coupled physical-biogeochemical ecosystem dynamical processes. The specific tasks of these activities will be to document the pathways, the regulation of rates and feedbacks, the population dynamics, and the roles of physical, climatic and anthropogenic forcing in driving the ecosystem variability of the Black Sea. Furthermore, these efforts will be critical in the determination of various rate parameters including respiration, grazing, and fecal pellet production that are needed in the models.

   Secondly, coupled physical-biological-chemical ecosystem dynamical models with interdisciplinary data assimilation schemes will be developed, validated and applied. The models will involve:

A basinwide ocean general circulation model (OGCM) for the physical component of the ecosystem, capable of simulating and predicting the three-dimensional structure of the flow field, temperature, and salinity distributions and their time evolutions with mesoscale resolution, with particular emphasis on the coastal-shelf regions; and
A biogeochemical model coupled to the physical model for simulating and predicting the seasonal and longer term variability and spatial distribution of contaminants, nutrients, and other living and non-living components of the ecosystem (BGCM).

   Other environmental issues that the coupled biogeochemical-physical model will address include exchanges of nutrients and other biogenic materials between the shelf and the interior, pathways of nutrient transport, translocation and change in the spawning / overwintering characteristics of fish, egg and larvae stocks and their correlation with the primary productivity on the regional scale.

   Thirdly, a data base management system based on the existing NATO Black Sea Data Base and Management System will be developed. This is needed to develop innovative, efficient and practical ways of processing, archiving, and disseminating the large volume of data needed by the modellers. A fundamental issue here is the provision of services with fast turnover time without adversely affecting the accuracy of the resulting product, using sophisticated signal processing algorithms. When complemented with historical data, the existing data base and management system will also serve to monitor the environmental trends which are crucial from the management perspective.

  And, finally, dissemination of the results of the Project to the end users, and other environmental management agencies and authorities will be fulfilled.



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