Prof. Dr. Martin Visbeck

Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics

Head of the Research Unit: Physical Oceanography 


Prof. Dr. Martin Visbeck

Phone: +49-431 600 4100
Fax: +49-431 600 4102
E-Mail: mvisbeck(at)

GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
West shore campus
Duesternbrooker Weg 20
D-24105 Kiel


Personal Information

  • Date of birth: 21 March 1963
  • Place of birth: Braunschweig
  • Nationality: German


Research Interests

  • The role of the ocean in interannual to centennial climate variability
  • Variability of regional ocean circulation
  • Deep water formation in subpolar regions
  • Lateral exchanges by mesoscale eddy processes
  • Sustained global ocean observations
  • The North Atlantic Oscillation and its impacts on the ocean
  • Tropical Atlantic Climate Variability
  • Antarctic Bottom Water formation
  • Ocean circulation configurations during past climates
  • ADCP observations in the open ocean and in coastal environments
  • Dynamics of oxygen minimum zones


Education and Employment



1989-1993      Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography, Institute for Marine Science (IFM), University of Kiel, Germany (Advisor: Prof. F. Schott)

1982-1989      Diplom in Physical Oceanography, University of Kiel (CAU), Germany

Research and Employment History

since 2004      Professor at University of Kiel (CAU) and Head of the Research Unit “Physical Oceanography” at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (before 2012 Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences), Germany

since 2004      Adjunct Senior Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, USA

1999-2004      Associate Professor, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, USA

1995-2004      Associate Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, USA

1997-1999      Storke-Doherty Lecturer, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, USA

1994-1995      Postdoctoral fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA (Advisor: Prof. J. Marshall)

1989-1993      Researcher, Institute for Marine Science (IFM), University of Kiel, Germany

Other positions of responsibility

2007-2011      Deputy Director, Leibniz-Institute for Marine Science, Kiel, Germany

External visits

2008-2009      3 months at Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (NOAA) and Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (University of Miami), USA

2008                2 months at Ocean University, Qingdao, China

1998-1999      4 months at CSIRO Hobart, Australia


12.12.2016 – 02.01.2017     Chief Scientist, METEOR M133, South Atlantic (Cape Town – Falkland Islands)

01.05.2015 – 03.06.2015     Chief Scientist, METEOR M116/1, Tropical Atlantic (Guadeloupe – Cape Verde)

17.03.2014 – 16.04.2014     Chief Scientist, METEOR M105, Tropical Atlantic (Cape Verde – Cape Verde)

04.10.2013 – 21.10.2013     Chief Scientist, METEOR M100/2, including German-African Training, South Africa (Namibia – Mauritius)

26.11.2012 – 20.12.2012     Chief Scientist, Maria S. Merian MSM23, Tropical Atlantic (Cape Verde – Namibia)

23.09.2011 – 30.09.2011     Chief Scientist, Maria S. Merian MSM19/1a, Training and Capacity Building Cruise in Namibian waters

17.10.2010 – 13.11.2010     Chief Scientist, METEOR M83/1, Tropical Atlantic (Las Palmas – Cape Verde)

26.11.2009 – 22.12.2009     METEOR M80/2, Tropical Atlantic (Cape Verde – Senegal)

01.11.2008 – 06.12.2008     Chief Scientist, Maria S. Merian MSM10/1, Tropical Atlantic (Portugal – Cape Verde)

18.04.2008 – 03.05.2008     Chief Scientist, Maria S. Merian MSM08/1, Tropical Atlantic (Cape Verde – Cape Verde)


Awards and Recognitions

2015    AGU Fellow

2015    Member of the European Academy of Sciences (EURASC)

2009    CIMAS Visiting Scientist Award, University of Miami, USA

2008    Guest Professor, Ocean University, Qingdao, China

2003    Tenure at Columbia University

1999    DEES Outstanding Teacher

1997    Storke-Doherty Lectureship sponsored by LDEO/Columbia University

1993    Postdoctoral fellowship sponsored by NOAA-OGP's Global & Climate Change program


International current

International current

since 2015      Editorial Board Member, ESA Journal Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

since 2014      Member, Joint Scientific Committee of WCRP (World Climate Research Programme)

since 2012      Member, Leadership Council of the SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network)

since 2012      Member,  ICSU (International Council for Science) Committee on Scientific Planning and Review

since 2010      Member, AGU (American Geophysical Union) Ocean Sciences Section Executive Committee

since 2006      Expert, IOC-UNESCO (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO) working group Advisory Body of Experts on the Law of the Sea

International past

2011&2015    Member and Chair, ESA (European Space Agency) EOEP (Earth Observation Envelope Programme) Scientific Review Panel

2011-2013      Member, ICSU Transition Team, the interim governing body of the new global sustainability initiative “Future Earth”

2009-2010      Member, UNESCO- IFSOO (Integrated Framework for Sustained Ocean Observing) transition team

2008-2009      Chair, Expert Segment of the WMO’s (World Meteorological Organization) Third World Climate Conference

2007-2013      Member and Co-chair, WCRP-CLIVAR (World Climate Research Programme, Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability and Change) Scientific Steering Group

2005-2009      Member, GEO (Group on Earth Observations) Science and Technology Committee

2004-2005      Member, WCRP-COPES (World Climate Research Programme, Coordinated Observation and Prediction of the Earth System) Task Force

2000-2006      Chair, WCRP-CLIVAR Atlantic Sector Implementation Panel

National current

since 2015      Advisory Board Member, German Meteorological Service (DWD, Germany)

since 2014      Advisory Board Member, Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC, UK)

since 2012      Steering Group Member, RACE project (BMBF, Germany)

since 2013      Chairman, German Committee Future Earth (DFG, Germany)

since 1999      Member, Climate Observing System Council (NOAA-OGP, USA)

National past

2009-2012      Deputy Speaker, German National Committee on Global Change Research (NKGCF, Germany)

2008-2012      Elected member, Review Board for Atmospheric Science and Oceanography (DFG, Germany)

2008-2009      Member, Science and Innovation Strategic Board (NERC, UK)

2007-2014      Member, Senate Commission on Oceanography (DFG, Germany)

2006-2008      Member, Steering Group "Mittelgroße Forschungsschiffe" working group of the Federal Government and the Federal States "Deutsche Forschungsflotte” (Germany)

2005-2012      Steering Group Member, NORDATLANTIK project (BMBF, Germany)

2005-2010      Steering Group Member, RAPID: Rapid Climate Change Programme (NERC, UK)

2001-2002      Member, Climate Change Data and Detection Advisory Panel (NOAA-OGP, USA)

1998-2004      Member, Global and Climate Change Advisory Panel (NOAA-OGP, USA)

1999-2004      Co-chair, US-CLIVAR Atlantic Sector Implementation Panel





2015-2019      Coordinator, AtlantOS: Optimizing and Enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (Horizon-2020, EU)

2012-2018      RACE: Regional Atlantic Circulation and Global Change (BMBF, Germany)

2008-2019      SFB754: Climate-Biogeochemistry Interactions in the Tropical Ocean (DFG Collaborative Research Center, Germany)

2007-2017      Speaker, Kiel Excellence Cluster “The  Future Ocean” (DFG Excellence Initiative, Germany)


2013-2015      Founding member, SPP 1689: Climate Engineering - Risks, Challenges, Opportunities? (DFG, Germany)

2011-2015      Decadal Climate Predictions (MiKlip, Module 3), OCEANOBS: Verification of Ensembles and Initialization Fields for Decadal Climate Predictions via Ocean Observation Systems (BMBF, Germany)

2011-2014      GROOM: Gliders for Research, Ocean Observation and Management (FP7, EU)

2011                MoLaB - a Modular Multidisciplinary Seafloor Observatory (HGF, Germany)

2009-2012      THOR: Thermohaline Overturning - at Risk? (FP7, EU)

2006-2009      GO: Geophysical Oceanography (FP6, EU)

2006-2008      TENATSO: Tropical Eastern North Atlantic Time-Series Observatory (FP6, EU)

2006-2008      SPP1257: Mass Transport and Mass Distribution in the Earth System, under project TRANSOCEAN (DFG, Germany)

2005-2012      NORDATLANTIK - Teil des Erdsystems: Pilot-Anwendungen eines Beobachtungs- und Diagnosesystems zur regionalen Abschätzung der Zirkulation im Nordatlantik und in der Nordsee (BMBF, Germany)



Reviewed Publications  

Books and Book chapters

Other Publication

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