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Black Sea

Position of center of photo (Lat/Long): [43.25377/33.96360]

Black Sea

Map: Black SeaThis cloud-free Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) view of the Black Sea on June 9, 2003, reveals the colorful interplay of currents on the lake’s surface. The green crescent shaped pattern in the northwestern corner of the Black Sea is due to the nutrient-rich, sediment-laden discharge of the Danube River stimulating biological activity. The brighter, more turquoise patterns on the lake to the south and east are probably blooms of another type of phytoplankton.

The Danube is Europe’s second longest river, and the only major river on the continent to flow from west to east. The Danube originates in Germany’s Black Forest and, from there, flows eastward roughly 1,770 miles (2,850 km) where it divides to form a large delta on the Romanian coast of the Black Sea.

According to the Black Sea Environment Programme's Marine Hydrophysical Institute, the Black Sea is "one of the marine areas of the world most damaged by human activities". The coastal zone around these Eastern European inland water bodies is densely populated - supporting a permanent population of roughly 16 million people and another 4 million tourists each year. Six countries border with the Black Sea, including Ukraine to the north, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.

Because it is isolated from the world's oceans, and because there is an extensive drainage network of rivers that empty into it, the Black Sea has a unique and delicate water balance which is very important for supporting its marine ecosystem. Of particular concern to scientists is the salinity, water level, and nutrient levels of the Black Sea's waters, all of which are, unfortunately, being impacted by human activities. Within the last three decades the combination of increased nutrient loads from human sources together with pollution and over-harvesting of fisheries has resulted in a sharp decline in water quality.

Scientists from each of the Black Sea's bordering nations are currently working together to study the issues and formulate a joint, international strategy for saving this unique marine ecosystem. Working with a spirit of placing more emphasis on joint ownership of the Black Sea's resources, and less emphasis on blame, it is hoped that the cooperating countries can strike an effective balance between both enjoying and preserving the Black Sea.

Source of material: NASA

Further information: WikiPedia article on Black Sea

Last Update: 2011-03-30