FUture of Tropical Upwelling Regions
in the Atlantic Ocean



The FUture of 
Tropical Upwelling Region in the Atlantic Ocean 

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

FUTURO aims to enhance understanding and sustainable management of tropical upwelling areas 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 processes 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, supporting one-fifth of the world's wild marine fish harvest. 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 as well as supporting 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 can 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 satellite image shows the concentration of chlorophyll in the ocean, which is an indicator for phytoplankton biomass.

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.
(©EUMETSAT 2022, Background map: GEBCO)

Concerted Ocean Observation

Observation platforms together with physical, biogeochemical, and geological processes and food chain components as well as modelling as part of the FUTURO campaign in 2027-2029 (FUTUROcore).

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. 
(Illustration: Christoph Kersten/GEOMAR)


The Future West African
Upwelling System



Engagement phase
During this preparatory phase, the program and the field study at its heart will be co-designed in an engagement process with stakeholders in West Africa. Natural and social sciences will be involved from the start in an attempt to follow a more holistic approach which allows transfer of knowledge gained into management practice. Research consortia are built at national and international levels. Project and campaign planning will be carried out in a concerted way leading to both joint and individual funding and ship-time requests among participating parties. This process will be coordinated and led by GEOMAR.

Co-design FUTURO with us in the next years aligning the scientific and infrastructure processes for synchronous multidisciplinary observation during FUTUROcore in 2027-2029!



Concerted field campaign
During this core phase, the large year-long FUTURO Field Study will be carried out as the central activity.
Several research vessels are expected to operate during the campaign in the larger West African EBUS region executing a sequence of coordinated and concerted multidisciplinary surveys and experiments supplemented by a large number of autonomous and voluntary observing instruments and regional research capabilities. The planned combination of field work, remote sensing from space and aerial platforms as well as near real time modeling will provide an unprecedented large data set and new insights. The scientific ambition as well as the exchange of new knowledge with regional partners will be co-designed with experts from the West African region. 



Syntheses Phase - Outcomes & Impact
There is an urgent need to generate the necessary sociocultural and politico-economic knowledge and to transfer it into application together with the responsible actors. Knowledge-based, sustainable and fair management must also meet ethical, cultural and economic requirements and develop suitable political and economic steering instruments at various levels. The process of knowledge production must therefore be developed from the outset in co-creation with stakeholders and the users of knowledge in an inter- and transnational context.
FUTURO aims at
● Innovative digital decision-making tools for management optimization (West African Digital Twin of the Ocean)
● Contribute to design and implementation of a West African Ocean Observing System as an infrastructure to support sustainable management
● Detailed policy advice for sustainable ecosystem management measures
● Established network of well-educated and internationally connected West African young investigators and future decision makers to sustain the legacy of FUTURO
● Established marine M.Sc. and PhD graduation programs in West Africa co-funded by international organizations.
● Support the development of a regional Centre of excellence for sustainable and trans-disciplinary ecosystem management and blue economy 

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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