CORDIS - EU research results

Biogeochemical Interactions between the Danube River and the North-Western Black Sea


EROS (European River Ocean System) is a long term interdisciplinary research project on biogeochemical processes in the European coastal environment. EROS 21 is a contribution to the Eloïse integrated networking initiative and will focus on the interactions between the Danube, Dnestr and Dnepr rivers and the North Western Black Sea. It constitutes a follow up of the ongoing Pilot project "EROS 2000 - The interactions between the Danube river and the North Western Black Sea (1994-1996)" This area, indeed, corresponds to the largest catchment basin of european rivers, and represents one of the ultimate example of deterioration of the coastal marine environment, where dramatic eutrophication, pollution and erosion problems are observed. The extrapolation of the results obtained in this area will be of great value for determining measures to be taken to prevent such catastrophic situation in other semienclosed seas. It further represents a key environment for understanding the production of biogases of climatological significance such as methane. The geographical area under study is roughly the North-Western Black Sea continental shelf (offshore limit at the 200 m isobath, from Sebastopol to Burgas) but processes whose understanding requires and extension of the domain are examined at the appropriate scale (e.g. sediment dispersion, methane seepage, hydrodynamical circulation...).
The scientific objectives are adressed by the four following key questions, which also determine the structure of the project:
1. What would be the consequences of a reduction of the river input of nutrients for the eutrophication and the ecosystem structure of the NorthWestern Black Sea ?
2. What are the rivererine and atmospheric sources, levels and fates of key organic/inorganic contaminants in the North-Western Black Sea environment ? 3. What are likely to be the short - and long - term consequences of the regulation of river discharge for sediment erosion, transport, deposition and water stratification ?
4. What is the significance of the Black sea as a source of important greenhouse gases?
The implementation of the project associates both E.U. countries and counterpart participants from Russia, the Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. The project methodology involves the following items:
- analysis of existing data in the riparian countries and their banking - field work (survey data and process studies)
- numerical experimentations (coupled hydrodynamical/biogeochemical models) - training (transfer of techniques and protocols).
An important part of the work carried out during the 2 year-Pilot phase (1994- 1996) is being devoted to research planning between Eastern and Western European scientists and institutions so as to implement the monitoring network needed for change assessment and model validation and for the selection of eastern research vessels according to planned research requirements. These difficulties are now circumvented and several cruises are planned in the Danube River and its Delta (June 1995) and on the shelf (July 1995 and March 1996). The Pilot project received a financial support from the Environment and PECO Programmes, from the Danube Task Force and from the INTAS Association. However, due to the limited funding available, the scientific plan of the Pilot phase can partly adressed the defined four key questions and is restricted to the geomorphological analysis of the Danube watershed and to the identification of the point and non-point sources of nutrients; to the establishment of the 1D ecosystem model as based on the analysis of existing and collected biogeochemical data; to the assessment of contaminant levels, sediment transfer and location of main biogas seepage.
The present proposal is structured to fully address the scientific objectives determined by the four key environmental questions.with a view to contributing to the restoration of sustainable fisheries, to facilitate compliance with environmental quality criteria, including recreational aspects, and to evaluating the significance of the Black Sea in terms of global change

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