Black Sea

Black Sea
Map of the Black Sea with bathymetry and surrounding relief.svg
Coordinates44°N 35°E / 44°N 35°E / Bosphorus
Basin countriesBulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Turkey
A large number of countries included in drainage basins for inflow rivers
Max. length1,175 km (730 mi)
Surface area436,402 km2 (168,500 sq mi)
Average depth1,253 m (4,111 ft)
Max. depth2,212 m (7,257 ft)
Water volume547,000 km3 (131,200 cu mi)
Islands10+
Black Sea coast of western Georgia, with the skyline of Batumi on the horizon
A health resort in Sochi, Russia

The Black Sea is a body of water and marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Western Asia.[1] It is supplied by a number of major rivers, such as the Danube, Dnieper, Southern Bug, Dniester, Don, and the Rioni. Areas of many countries drain into the Black Sea,[2] including Germany, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km2 (168,500 sq mi) (not including the Sea of Azov),[3] a maximum depth of 2,212 m (7,257 ft),[4] and a volume of 547,000 km3 (131,000 cu mi).[5] It is constrained by the Pontic Mountains to the south, Caucasus Mountains to the east, Crimean Mountains to the north, Strandzha to the southwest, Balkan Mountains to the west, 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).[6] Important cities along the coast include Odessa, Sevastopol, Samsun, and Istanbul.

The Black Sea is bordered by Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, and Russia. It has a positive water balance; that is, a net outflow of water 300 km3 (72 cu mi) per year through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles into the Aegean Sea. There is a two-way hydrological exchange: the more saline and therefore denser, but warmer, Mediterranean water flows into the Black Sea under its less saline outflow. This creates a significant anoxic layer well below the surface waters. The Black Sea drains into the Mediterranean Sea, via the Aegean Sea and various straits, and is navigable to the Atlantic Ocean. The Bosphorus 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. The Black Sea is also connected, to the north, to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.

The water level has varied significantly over geological time. Due to these variations in the water level in the basin, the surrounding shelf and associated aprons have sometimes been dry 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. During geological periods when this hydrological link wasn't present, the Black Sea was an endorheic basin, operating independently of the global ocean system (similar to the Caspian Sea nowadays). Currently, the Black Sea water level is relatively high; thus, water is being exchanged with the Mediterranean. The Turkish Straits connect the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea, and comprise the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles. The Black Sea undersea river is a current of particularly saline water flowing through the Bosphorus Strait and along the seabed of the Black Sea. The discovery of the river, announced on 1 August 2010, was made by scientists at the University of Leeds, and is the first of its kind in the world.[7] The undersea river stems from salty water spilling through the Bosphorus Strait from the Mediterranean Sea into the Black Sea, where the water has a lower salt content.[7]

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Black Sea as follows:[8]

On the Southwest. The Northeastern limit of the Sea of Marmara [A line joining Cape Rumili with Cape Anatoli (41°13'N)].
In the Kertch Strait. A line joining Cape Takil and Cape Panaghia (45°02'N).