This site provides free downloads of CTD data acquired by the research vessels Yakov Gakkel and Vladimir Parshin, of the former Soviet Union, during 1987-1990. The site is dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Ivan Ovchinnikov (14 July 1931 – 10 June 2000) who initiated the soviet program of research of the Mediterranean Sea and contributed significantly to the investigation of physical processes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Two large scale investigations of the Eastern Mediterranean: POEM – an international cooperative effort, and GOIN – an initiative of the former USSR, were carried out between 1985 and 1995. The two projects were not coordinated and therefore, the cruises of the two projects sometimes overlap and sometimes complement each other in time and in space.

POEM carried out six coordinated cruises with a total of 1674 stations. As a result of the careful compilation and inter-calibration of the POEM data, an accurate description of the Eastern Mediterranean general circulation was achieved (Ozsoy et al., 1989; Ozsoy et al.,1991; Robinson et al., 1991; POEM Group, 1992; Malanotte-Rizzoli et al., 1997).

Traditionally, Russian oceanographers have also shown a deep interest in the Mediterranean Sea. Prof. Ivan Michailovich Ovchinnikov, who led a series of Mediterranean cruises on R/V Vityaz and on other Soviet research vessels, played a significant role in the long term investigation of this basin. In addition to many papers on the Mediterranean Sea, Prof. Ovchinnikov also headed a group of scientists who wrote a unique comprehensive Mediterranean monograph (Ovchinnikov et al., 1976). During the nineties, Prof. Ovchinnikov initiated the Soviet scientific program aimed at investigation of sub-basin Mediterranean circulation, focusing on of the variability of the thermohaline structure related to synoptic scale eddies. From 1987 to 1990 the State Oceanographic Institute (GOIN) at Moscow, based mainly on the facilities of GOIN’s branches in Odessa and Sevastopol, carried out 9 special Eastern Mediterranean cruises, during which they collected data at 1779 stations. Prof. Ovchinnikov took part in some of these cruises, emphasizing on understanding of the mechanisms of intermediate and deep water formation processes in the Aegean Sea and Levantine basin. Particular interest was excited by the discovery of the convective destruction of gravitational stability in the center of the Rhodes Gyre (Gertman et al., 1994) as well as by the discovery of intensive outflow of Aegean water via the Cretan Arc Straits (Popov, 1991), which was only recognized later on as a component of the climatic Mediterranean transient (Roether et al., 1996). Unfortunately, due to the "Perestroika" processes, which however positive, brought with them stagnation in Soviet oceanographic research activity, only preliminary analyses of the Mediterranean GOIN cruises were carried out. Recently, some more profound analyses based on the gathered data were carried out and published (Gertman et al., 2006).

Both the POEM and the GOIN projects elucidated many of the phenomenological and theoretical questions concerning the Eastern Mediterranean circulation. Nevertheless, many problems and questions remain and require further investigation and confirmation. Moreover, as mentioned above, the time period of both programs coincided with the unique climatic transient in formation of deep water in the Eastern Mediterranean. This event has been discussed widely in oceanographic publications (Klein et al., 1999; Lascaratos et al., 1999; Wu et al., 2000; Roether et al., 2006) and still attracts the interest of oceanographers involved in the numerical simulation of the event. Therefore, all the observations carried out during the relevant period are highly sought after by the oceanographers. Until now only the POEM data were available to investigators since they were included in the data base assembled within the framework of the MEDAR/MEDATLAS project. On the other hand, GOIN data were available only to that limited number of researchers, who participated in the data collection. Recently, permission was obtained from the Ukrainian Scientific Centre of Sea Ecology (formerly Odessa branch of the State Oceanographic Institute) to open these data to the general public.

Prof. Ovchinnikov always held CIESM in very high esteem. Therefore, it was suggested to publish GOIN cruise data on the CIESM web site and to dedicate this site to the memory of the late Prof. Ovchinnikov, a proposition warmly accepted by the CIESM Director General, Prof. Frederic Briand.

On this site, most of the Mediterranean GOIN data are made available. All data were obtained using Soviet CTD probes (“Zond-Bathometer”). Unfortunately, due to the limited data storage capacity, the measured data were re-sampled during the cruises. The available vertical profiles have a resolution of 10 db for the 0 – 400 db layer and of 100 db below the 400 db level. Calibration of the CTD’s was carried out onboard the research vessels using reversing thermometers and salinometers. The assessment of the accuracy of GOIN data relative to POEM data was carried out by Hecht and Gertman (2001) and resulted in an average difference of -0.02±0.07°C for temperature and 0.01±0.03 for salinity. This data comparison also concluded that it would be possible to merge the two data sets, at least in the upper 1000 db layer. All the data presented on this site passed the quality control for gravitational instability, and, according to MEDAR/MEDATLAS QC conventions (Quality flag 3), wherever a density inversion of more then 0.03 kg/m3 was observed on adjacent levels, the data were flagged as dubious. Cases with instability larger than 0.5 kg/m3 were flagged as bad data (Quality flag 4).

The time and space distribution of the data may be analyzed by means of the graphical user interface, which utilizes a dynamic map. Selected cruises are available for downloading from the site in MEDAR/MEDATLAS format ( or in ODV (Ocean Data View - generic format. These data can be easily loaded to ODV.


CIESM is grateful to the Direction of the Ukrainian Scientific Centre of Sea Ecology for allowing the free data dissemination. Special thanks are due to Prof. Barak Herut - Director General of Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, who supported the CIESM initiative by approving the development of this site by IOLR staff and the provision of the server and Internet facilities for the database. The web system for data analysis and download was developed by Irena Lunin - webmaster and database administrator of ISRAMAR.


Gertman I.F., Ovchinnikov I.M. and Popov Yu.I., 1994. Deep Convection in the Eastern Basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Oceanology, 34: 19-25.

Gertman I., Pinardi N., Popov Y. and Hecht A., 2006. Aegean Sea water masses during the early stages of the Eastern Mediterranean Climatic Transient (1988-1990). Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 36, No. 9, pages 1841–1859.

Hecht A. and Gertman I., 2001. Physical Features of the Eastern Mediterranean resulting from the integration of POEM data with Russian Mediterranean Cruises. Deep Sea Research. Part I, Vol 48/8: 1847-1876.

Klein B., Roether W., Manca B. B., Bregant D., Beitzel V., Kovacevic V. and Luchetta A., 1999. The large deep water transient in the Eastern Mediterranean. Deep-Sea Research, I 46: 371-414.

Lascaratos A., Roether W., Nittis K. and Klein B., 1999. Recent changes in deep water formation and spreading in the Mediterranean Sea: a review. Progress in Oceanography, 44: 5-36.

Malanotte-Rizzoli P., Manca B. B., d’Alcala M. R., Teocharis A., Bergemasco A., Bregant D., Budillon G., Civitarese G., Georgopoulos D., ichelato A., Sansone E., Scarazzato P. and Souvermezoglou E., 1997. A synthesis of the Ionian Sea hydrography, circulation and water mass pathways during POEM-Phase I. Progress in Oceanography, 39: 153-204.

Ozsoy E., Hecht A. and Unluata U., 1989. Circulation and hydrography of the Levantine basin. Results of the POEM coordinated experiments 1985/1986. Progress in Oceanography, 22: 125-170.

Ozsoy E., Hecht A., Unluata U., Brenner S., Oguz T., Bishop J., Latif M.A. and Rozentroub Z., 1991. A review of the Levantine Basin circulation and its variability during 1985-1988. Dynamics of. Atmospheres and Oceans, 15: 421-456.

Ovchinnikov I.M., Plakhin A., Moskalenko L.V., Neglyad K.V., Osadchii A.S., Fedoseev A.F., Krivosheya V.G. and Voitova K.V., 1976. Gidrologiya Sredizemnogo Moria. GIDROMETEOIZDAT, Leningrad, 375 pp. (in Russian).

POEM GROUP, 1992. General circulation of the Eastern Mediterranean. Earth-Science Reviews, 32: 285-309.

Popov Yu. I., 1991. Effect of the structure of the South Aegean water mass on structure and dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (the 38th cruise of the R/V Yakov Gakkel in the Eastern Mediterranean, August 20 – November 6, 1990). Oceanology, 31: 794-796.

Robinson A.R., Golnaraghi M., Leslie W.G., Artegiani A., Hecht A., Lazzoni E., Michelato A., Sansone E., Teocharis A. and Unluata U., 1991. The Eastern Mediterranean general circulation: features, structure and variability. Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, 15: 215-240.

Roether W., Manca B.B., Klein B., Bregant D., Georgopoulos D., Beitzel V., Kovacevic V. and Luchetta A., 1996. Recent changes in the Eastern Mediterranean deep waters. Science, 271: 333–335.

Roether W., Klein B., Manca B.B., Theocharis A. and Kioroglouc S., 2006. Transient Eastern Mediterranean deep waters in response to the massive dense-water output of the Aegean Sea in the 1990s. Submitted to Progress in Oceanography, June 2006.

Wu P., Haines K. and Pinardi N., 2000. Toward an understanding of deep-water renewal in the Eastern Mediterranean. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 30: 443-458.


Professor Ivan Michailovich Ovchinnikov. On board R/V Yakkov Gakkel. February 1990.
R/V Yakov Gakkel (Odessa Branch of the State Oceanographic Institute).
R/V Vladimir Parshin (Odessa Branch of the State Oceanographic Institute).
Soviet CTD probes (“Zond-Bathometer”) mounted with ROSETTA.
Prof. Ovchinnikov with group of Greek and Soviet oceanographers in Athens (1990): Upper row from left to right: Dr. Anatoly Giliaev, Dr. Alexander Theocharis, Prof. Ivan Ovchinnikov, Dr. George Zodiatis, Dr. Efstathios Balopoulos. Low row: Dr. Yuri. Popov, Dr. Isaac Gertman, Eng. Irena Zodiatis.
Team of R/V Yakkov Gakkel in cruise 29 (summer 1987).
Prof. Ovchinnikov and Dr. Zodiatis. Scientific discussion on board R/V Yakov Gakkel, Piraeus, 1990.
Prof. Ivan Ovchinnikov and Prof. Artur Hecht with group of Israeli oceanographers in Haifa (1994).