The Future West African
Upwelling System

A multi-scale, year-round, co-designed and multidisciplinary concerted observational campaign
in the tropical North Atlantic upwelling system, 

FUTURO (The FUture of Tropical Upwelling Region in the Atlantic Ocean) aims to enhance understanding and sustainable management of the tropical upwelling area in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa, thereby contributing to the goals of the
United Nations Ocean Decade.

As the centerpiece of FUTURO, we will collaborate with international partners over the next few years to design the scientific and infrastructure elements for a one-year concerted observation campaign scheduled for 2027-2029 (FUTUROcore).

We invite you to establish alliances and working groups with all stakeholders and a growing framework of international collaboration. Interested?

Eastern Boundaries Upwelling Systems. The coastal upwelling areas on the eastern edges of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are among the most biologically productive regions of the ocean. These ecosystems are defined by ocean currents that bring nutrient-rich but oxygen-poor water to coasts that line the eastern edges of the world's ocean basins. These regions generate more than 10% of primary marine production on less than 1% of the ocean's surface and contribute 20-30% of global fisheries production.

Overview of processes and research topics of Tropical Atlantic Ocean Upwelling

Tropical upwelling regions play an active role in climate and oceanic biogeochemical cycles and they host the most productive ocean food chains. They support the largest fisheries of the world and are home to a biodiverse marine environment. In the upwelling region, anthropogenic impacts will therefore have disproportionately large consequences for human society. Ocean warming, ocean acidification, and oxygen depletion converge and may lead to synergistic effects with negative impacts on ecosystem function. Reliable future scenarios on changes in ecosystem services, which are extremely important for humanity, are lacking.
Multidisciplinary research on natural and societal systems in tropical upwelling regimes enables assessment of future fisheries and economic potential, conservation strategies and climate connections.

(Illustration: Christoph Kersten/GEOMAR)

FUTURO region
The particularly species-rich and productive coastal upwelling area off West Africa provides employment for around 1 million people, including 150,000 artisanal fishers. This region supports a West African population of 450 million people and generates revenues of approximately 3 billion US dollars. It plays an integral role in the climate system and is subject to strong, overlapping anthropogenic influences. FUTURO will focus on the Mauritania-Senegal upwelling region (12-12°N) and reach out to the Cabo Verde archipelago.

The satellite image shows the concentration of chlorophyll in the ocean, which is an indicator for phytoplankton biomass.

(©EUMETSAT 2022, Background map: GEBCO)

Concerted Ocean Observation

FUTURO is based on the following values and practices:
- Active partnership with West African researchers, stakeholders & marine research institutes: West African experts will be essential partners in the co-design. They are invited to become partners of the FUTURO experiment.
- Involvement of all interested parties in the German research landscape: The experiment is a major joint project initiated by leading national research institutes in Germany.
- Coordination with international research communities: The experiment is to be widely presented and promoted internationally. Scientific co-operations are explicitly desired.

Approach of the FUTURO campaign in 2027-2029.

(Illustration: Christoph Kersten/GEOMAR)

The aim of FUTURO is to develop a significantly improved system understanding and robust predictive capability for the future development of this coastal upwelling region, which is of extremely high socio-economic importance. Fishery yields from this region, which is particularly affected by anthropogenic influences, are of great importance for the economy of almost all West African countries and thus have a concrete impact on the living conditions of people in the Sahel. The focus in the final FUTURO phase is synthesis and transdisciplinary transfer of knowledge to guide sustainable ecosystem management actions benefiting the local population. 

FUTURO – Co-designing Ocean Observation

We invite you to establish alliances and working groups with all stakeholders and a growing framework of international collaboration.

Interested? Contact us!

Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arne Körtzinger, .

Want to keep updated or want to get in touch?

You can reach us via email at:

FUTURO is coordinated by GEOMAR Helmholtz centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, on behalf of the German Research Community.


Download FUTURO info sheet  


Wischhofstr. 1-3
24148 Kiel, Germany


Phone: +49 (0) 431 600 1952

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