Considered unanimously as one of the most interesting seas in the Planetary Ocean, the Black Sea has been intensively researched, especially in the last 50 years, by specialists from riparian countries, as well as by numerous teams that included oceanographers from the United States, Italy, France, Germany, who worked in international programs in collaboration with researchers from some circumeuxine countries.
Due to these efforts, the Black Sea is becoming better known both from a strictly oceanographic point of view, as well as geological, geophysical, geomorphological, climatic, biogeographical, etc. Unfortunately, the results of this research, published in thematic monographs and articles in the most important periodicals in the field in the world, are little known in Romania.
We present, below, a synthesis of current knowledge about the Black Sea that we consider necessary for students of geography faculties preparing for specialized exams, graduates studying for the bachelor's exam, teachers who are informed for tenure exams in education or for obtaining didactic degrees, as well as to any reader interested in the extraordinary nature of this sea.
Fruit of a documentary, research and didactic activity extended for more than 35 years, this paper wants to make order in a very large volume of information accumulated in the last 150 years, presenting, objectively and critically, the current state of knowledge of the Sea. Black, so that the reader retains the essentials. The very rich information was filtered through long personal experience obtained through research on the coastal environment in the northwest of the Black Sea, so that some chapters have a unique character.
Our approach is geographical, the work wanting to be a monograph of marine geography.
But what is marine geography?
Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century with the work of M.F. Maury, Physical Geography of the Sea (1855), later published in several increasingly large editions, marine geography set as its main objective the description, mapping and regional analysis of the seas and oceans on Earth. Marine Lieutenant M.F.'s book Maury relied not only on the study of the American Admiralty's archives and the author's navigator experience, but also on deep knowledge of geography, Alexandre von Humboldt's influences being obvious.
The results of the Challenger expedition (1872–1876) and the first treatises
scientific studies of oceanography (M. Thoulet, 1890; O. Krummel, 1907) represents the turning point in which oceanography detaches itself from marine geography, moving to deepening by fields (physical, chemical, geological, biological), which reach more and more further in the knowledge of the components of the Planetary Ocean.
Strictly descriptive at first, marine geography, long called the "geography of the seas and oceans," has gradually evolved in two directions: (i) marine cartography and (ii) regional analysis of the Planetary Ocean. Recently, a third direction called coastal geography or coastal geography has been added.
The elaboration of marine maps of different types, as well as marine atlases has its roots since antiquity and has developed impetuously since the second half of the nineteenth century. This direction is maintained even today, reaching a special quality of cartographic information.
The regional analysis of the Planetary Ocean appeared later, when it became necessary to apply the principles, laws and discoveries of oceanography to the entire region with different dimensions, from the entire Planetary Ocean to its small subunits.
Coastal geography (Kustengeographie) has recently emerged from the need for an interdisciplinary approach to integrated coastal zone management. This direction has been recognized in several universities, the one in Kiel being a happy example (Prof. Dr. Horst Sterr, Homepage der AG Kustengeographie, Univ. Kiel, 2003).
Like the regional geography of the land, marine geography makes the effort to integrate all the knowledge about a certain sea or a certain ocean and to present its specificity. The field of knowledge used in the analysis of marine geography is vast, from strictly oceanographic knowledge to meteorology, climatology, biogeography, geomorphology, cartography, anthropology, sociology, geopolitics, navigation, medicine, settlement geography, cultural geography. Numerous issues regarding
exploitation of marine resources, protection of the oceanic and coastal environment, international law of the sea, geopolitical implications of spheres of influence and marine borders, diffusion of cultures and civilizations at sea, complex study of islands (nisology), etc. there are just as many problems facing marine geography today.
It has long been unanimously recognized that geography has “as a millennial task the description and explanation of the whole terrestrial space, requiring itself to subject to a critical examination the information material gathered by it and other geosciences, to analyze the structure and functions of the geosystem (local, regional, planetary) and to assess the state of balance or imbalance between its components. “(V. Mihailescu, 1977, p. 19).
These ideas, which have been applied, consciously or not, for millennia, to the subaerial continental space extending over about 29% of the planet's surface, must also apply to the marine space extending over almost 71% of the same surface.
At present, marine geography is in continuous progress, being recognized as a branch of geography by the International Geographical Union, within which the "Marine Geography" commission (Coo. 17, currently coordinated by Prof. Dr. David) has been operating. Pinder of Queen Mary University of London).
The creation of marine geography monographs for different subunits of the Planetary Ocean is one of the purposes of the above mentioned commission. An example is the large-scale monograph Geographie de l'Ocean Mondial in 6 volumes, of which 2 volumes are intended for general analysis, and the other 4 have regional concerns: Pacific Ocean (1981), Indian (1982), Atlantic (1984), Oceans Polar (1985).
Such monographs, extremely useful for general information for educational, training, protection, geopolitical and geostrategic orientation, etc., are difficult to prepare, due to the need to establish thresholds for physical, chemical, biological, geological or other deepening. , so as not to stifle the information useful for understanding the whole with redundant ballast.
We encountered such difficulties in the elaboration of this paper. We opted for a scientific description of the components of the marine system that is the Black Sea in a concise form and with as rich an illustration as possible.
The elaboration of the present paper raised numerous problems, the most important being:
• the need to develop a model of approach specific to marine geography monographs;
• overcoming primitive and formal descriptivism by introducing and using the current oceanographic theoretical basis, even if it will require the reader an extra effort;
• establishing a certain threshold of strictly oceanographic deepening, in order not to enter the fountain from which we no longer perceive either the horizon or the depth;
• the correct use of the very abundant information gathered during the documentation, so as to avoid, with all conviction, the current "disease" that haunts some geography books and which is manifested by the lack of citations or the practice of partial, incomplete, vague quotations, lack of use of scruples of information and even illustrative material without indicating the source.
The documentation, carried out over many years, aimed to know the results of research on the Black Sea viewed critically in terms of a long acquaintance with the problems of oceanography that involved other documentation, this time theoretical, for the correct understanding of concepts and notions. Intimacy with the problems of oceanography is based on decades of reading, in the country and abroad and on field research, which has allowed us critical attitudes.
The bibliography includes the main sources underlying the paper, reflecting the current state of knowledge of the Black Sea. Reading the primary sources in the language in which they were written allowed us to avoid the distorted perception of the issues addressed. At the same time, the bibliography that accompanies the book becomes a critical and in-depth tool for interested readers.
The use of the theoretical oceanographic basis requires the current use of the notions of geological, geophysical, geomorphological, physical, chemical, biological, ecological oceanography, less accessible to the reader unfamiliar with the vast field of science about the Planetary Ocean. This approach required the definition of notions in the glossary of terms attached to the paper necessary for the correct understanding of less common notions. By this we try to impose a semantic discipline without which any correct thinking is impossible. The ambiguity of concepts and notions always results in errors doubled by unnecessary and sterile controversies.
We consider this glossary very useful because it is found, in the current Romanian literature, the incorrect use of some terms, as well as the misunderstanding of the real meanings of others. The important advances of oceanography in the last 50 years force us to use the correct criteria in defining notions, to eliminate synonyms and confusing meanings. That is why we recommend readers to use the glossary whenever they have doubts about the content of some notions or concepts.