Ocean physics, marine geology, marine biology, marine engineering
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About Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Print E-mail
Welcome to the official website of the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IO RAS)

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The P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology is the oldest and the largest Russian research center in the field of oceanology. The main objectives of the Institute lie in a complex study of the World Ocean and the Russian seas based on the idea of entirety of physical, chemical, biological and geological processes observed in them, laying scientific foundations for forecasting the Earth's climate variability, rational use of marine resources and safeguarding ecological security in the interests of stable development of mankind.

The Institute was established by a resolution of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1946 on the basis of the Laboratory of Oceanology set up in 1941. P.P.Shirshov became the Institute's first Director. Together with P.P.Shirshov, the well-known scientists like L.A.Zenkevich, V.G.Bogorov, S.V.Bruyevich, A.D.Dobrovolsky, P.L.Bezrukov, I.D.Papanin, V.B.Shtockman and others took an active part in the formation of the new scientific center.

Petr P. Shirshov, Academician, Director of the Institute, Minister of Marine Fleet of the USSR
Veniamin G. Bogorov, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Deputy Director (responsible for Science)
Georgiy A. Ushakov, Professor, Deputy Director (responsible for expeditions)
Ivan D. Papanin, Rear Admiral, Deputy Director (responsible for expeditions) from 1948
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Vladimir B. Shtockman, Professor, Deputy Director (responsible for Physical Oceanology)

During 60 years Directors of the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences were:

Academician NIGMATULIN Robert Iskandrovich is now Director of the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences since January, 2007.

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Today, the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology is an ensemble of 1,300 employees numbering 110 doctors of sciences and 276 candidates of sciences of various disciplines. Among the members of the Institute's staff there are 3 Academicians and 3 Corresponding Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The P.P.Shirshov Institute affiliates the Atlantic Department in Kaliningrad, the Southern Department in Gelendjik, a branch in St.-Petersburg, the North-Western Department in Arkhangelsk and the Caspian branch in Astrakhan.

Main directions of research carried out by the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS

For the period of the Institute's life its scientists made a significant contribution to the Russian and the world's science of the ocean. In 1946 V.B.Shtockman was the first to show a fundamental role of spatial inhomogeneity of wind in the formation of ocean circulation and to create a theory of equatorial countercurrents in the ocean. In the same year there was recorded a discovery made by L.M.Brekhovskikh, L.A.Rozenberg, et al. of a superdistant propagation of sound in the ocean, the so-called underwater sound channel. In 1948 L.A.Zenkevich and V.G.Bogorov advanced a concept of the ocean's biological structure as a global natural law governing the distribution of life in the ocean which made possible estimation of the total biological resources of the ocean.

In 1957 the Institute's scientists pioneered research in ultra-abyssal depths and recorded the World oceans' maximum depth of 11,022 m in the Marianas Trench (Pacific Ocean). In 1966 a 9-volume monographic work, "The Pacific Ocean", was presented for publication. This generalizing work was awarded later with the USSR State Prize. In 1967 A.S.Monin and R.V.Ozmidov created a theory of ocean turbulence. In 1970 a large-scale experiment undertaken in the Atlantic Ocean resulted in a discovery of synoptic eddies; the discovery was registered in the State Register of Discoveries of the USSR by L.M.Brekhovskikh, M.N.Koshlyakov, V.G.Kort and L.M.Fomin. In 1977 the first expedition with PISCES manned submersibles (2 km diving depth) marked the beginning of a new stage in ocean exploration. In 1978 G.N.Baturin advanced a theory of phosphorite formation in the upwelling zones of the World Ocean later on registered as a discovery.

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In 1980ties the Institute made a series of unique laboratory experiments which showed that divers can survive under pressure corresponding to 500 m depth. Man's capability of active behaviour under respiratory mixture pressures corresponding to 2,000 m depth was demonstrated. The year of 1987 witnessed the first dive of MIR-1 and MIR-2 deep-sea manned submersibles capable of descending to 6,000 m depths. In 1989, a group of constructors and testers of the submersibles headed by I.E.Mikhaltsev was decorated with high governmental awards. Together with the R/V "Akademik Mstislav Keldysh" carrying MIRs onboard these submersibles formed a unique research complex the use of which made possible the largest discovery of the 20th century - the discovery of hydrothermal systems on the ocean floor. Also the research of ore formation processes at 3,000-5,000 m ocean depths under 300-500 atm pressures and 300-400 temperatures of hydrothermal fluids was made. Various investigations carried out during marine expeditions allowed the Institute's scientists to describe, for the first time, the ecosystem of the hydrothermal fields in the World Ocean, to estimate its biological productivity, to elucidate major laws governing the functioning of pelagic ecosystems, to study and to give a quantitative description of sedimentation processes in the World Ocean.
P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences in 1998-2002

The recent decade saw a principally new step in the exploration of the Arctic Ocean with the aid of self-contained instrumentation of long use under the international project "Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate"(ATOC). In the North Atlantic, the Logachev and Rainbow hydrothermal fields were found to present a new type of the hydrothermal ore formation system; data on the ecosystem of the high-latitude ice regions were obtained for the first time; a sharp change in the heat flows at the North Atlantic surface was recorded as a cause of essential variations in water structure and circulation regime; detailed studies of the ecosystems in the frontal zones of the North Atlantic gyre were made.

Scientific directions of Institute of Oceanology:

  • Physical research - hydrology, hydrophysics, hydrooptics, acoustics; the formation of physical structure and water motion systems of the seas and oceans as they accumulate solar energy and interact within the ocean-atmosphere-continents system.
  • Biological research - anthropogenic ecology, primary production and the ways of its monitoring, commercial populations; development of fundamentals of the organization and functioning of the ecosystems of the Russian seas and the World Ocean and biodiversity conservation.
  • Geological research -mineral resources, paleooceanology, global tectonics, geophysics, elucidation of peculiarities of the geological structure and evolution of the ocean floor, geophysical fields and geochemical process
  • Chemical research - biogeochemistry of organic matter, oil and gas genetic characteristics of the World Ocean, physical-chemical state of sea water; determination of the chemical composition of the major elements of the ecosystems of the oceans and seas, biogeochemical transformation and evolution processes
  • Marine engineering - technical means for ocean studies and for ocean information retrieval, development of technical methods and means for long-term observations of physical, chemical and biological parameters of the ocean based on distributed intellectual networks of self-contained bottom, submerged and remote-operated scanning stations.
  • Underwater researches

Research fleet:

Akademik Ioffe
In 1949, the Institute obtained its first research vessel "VITYAZ" of 5.7 thousand tons displacement which was re-equipped specifically for ocean studies. A series of scientific discoveries which brought fame to the Russian science is associated with the "VITYAZ". Nowadays the "VITYAZ" is functioning as the World Ocean Museum at the port of Kaliningrad.

The Institute's research fleet based at the ports of Kaliningrad and Gelendjik incorporates three large-capacity (of more than 6 thousand tons displacement) research vessels: "Akademik Mstislav Keldysh", "Akademik Sergei Vavilov" and "Akademik Ioffe"; two medium-capacity (more than 1 thousand tons) vessels: "Professor Shtockman" and "Rift" and three small-capacity (less than 1 thousand tons) vessels: "Shelf", "Aquanaut" and "Aquanaut-2". All the vessels are fitted up with modern navigational systems, research instruments and equipment for complex studies of the ocean.

Throughout its history the Institute made studies connected with the Russian national security interests. The studies included monitoring of the Russian atomic submarine "KOMSOMOLETS" wreck site in the Norwegian Sea and detailed studies and videotape recordings of the Russian atomic submarine "KURSK" sinking site. The deep-water manned submersibles MIR were used for inspecting the lost "TITANIK" and the battleship "BISMARK" in the deep ocean. For that work the Institute was rewarded with Russian and international awards. The Institute is successful in fulfilling various research programmes, including applied engineering-ecological research, under contracts with many Russian and foreign companies.

Scientific activity and publications:

For the period of the Institute's life its scientists made a significant contribution to the Russian and the world's science of the ocean.

In 2006 the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences conducted research according to the plan approved by Academician Laverov N.P., Vice-President of RAS. The plan incorporates 6 projects specially funded by the Presidium of RAS within the framework of the 17th fundamental research program of the Presidium of RAS, 11 projects of the "World Ocean" Federal Scientific Research Program, 4 themes under the fundamental research program of the Department of Earth Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences and 107 themes of the basic budgetary financing.
Besides, IO RAS scientists carried out research within the framework of 12 international projects and grants of different foreign scientific and governmental institutions, received 126 grants from the Russian Foundation of Basic Research, including 4 grants of the President of the Russian Federation for the state support of the leading scientific schools of the Russian federation, and 3 grants of the President of the Russian Federation for the support of the young Russian scientists - candidates of sciences. The Institute's scientists worked on 78 themes under the agreements with the Russian customers.

In 2006 the Institute's scientists published 4 monographs in foreign languages, 10 monographs in Russian, 324 articles in Russian, 146 articles in foreign languages, 108 abstracts submitted to the Russian conferences, 162 abstracts submitted to international conferences, 4 popular scientific papers, 2 methodical aids, 6 maps.

International contacts:

International scientific cooperation as an important part of the scientific work of the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2006 supported the scientific activity of the Institute's scientists opening access to the World's scientific and technical achievements and giving the Institute voluminous scientific and technical information to be used in the research carried out by the Institute's scientists. Long-term fruitful working contacts of the Institute with more than 30 scientific centres of 20 countries were continued in 2006.

Thanks to these contacts the Institute of Oceanology sent abroad (to 43 countries) 254 staff members for cooperative research at different foreign research centres. The working visits to foreign institutions were financially supported by the inviting side, international and national grants and from the funds of the Agreement on cooperation between the Russian and foreign academies. About 40 foreign scientists from 14 countries visited the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2006 within academic and intergovernmental agreements on cooperation and on direct institutional scientific exchange basis, as well as on invitations of the Institute as participants of international workshops and conferences hosted by the IO RAS.

Scientific base:

The Institute of Oceanology carries out joint scientific work with the leading Russian institutes of higher education, such as Moscow State University, Moscow Physical-Technical Institute, Moscow State Technical University, Moscow State Geological Academy (Moscow Geological Prospecting Institute) and others. In cooperation with the above institutions scientific seminars, schools and meetings were organized on a regular bases with the participation of students engaged in diploma paper writing, students of the higher education institutes and post-graduates of IO RAS.

Academic councils at which these are defended for Doctor's and Candidate's (Ph. D) degrees are functioning at the Institute - the Doctor's Council D 002.239.02 and the Candidate's Council K 002.239.01. Both councils have the right to accept for defense theses in "Oceanology" - speciality 25.00.28.

The councils have the right to award academic degrees of a Doctor and a Candidate of physical-mathematical sciences, of geographic sciences, of geological-mineralogical sciences and of engineering (technical) sciences.

The Candidate's Council D 002.239.01 has the right to accept for defense theses for Doctor's and a Candidate's degrees in specialities "Hydrobiology" - 03.00.18 and "Ichthyology" - 03.00.10 and award an academic degree of a Doctor of biological sciences and academic degree of a Candidate of biological sciences.

In 2006, 5 doctoral and 3 candidate theses were defended at the academic councils of IO RAS.. The post-graduate course trains 59 research students, 24 of whom are internal post graduate students.

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