Abstract The dynamics of seasonal hypoxia, which affects the Black Sea north-western shelf since the mid 1970's until present days, is investigated by means of a 3D biogeochemical model. Comparison of the model results with in -situ data reveals that the phenomenon may have been underestimated after the mid 1990's due to the distribution of observations. We investigate the mechanism of hypoxia at seasonal scale, and identify the main drivers of its interannual variability. While high nutrients discharge caused severe hypoxia in the 1980's, it was sustained in the 1990's by the pool of organic matter accumulated during the previous years in the sediments layer. With an increasing intensity, climatic stressors intensifies the response of hypoxia to nutrient discharge, and affect the seasonal dynamics of hypoxia by extending its temporal scale.