GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research is the successor to the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) which was founded in January 2004 through the merger of the Institut für Meereskunde (IfM) and the Research Center for Marine Geosciences (GEOMAR). The institute is a member of the Helmholtz Association and employs about 1,000 scientific and technical staff.

The institutes’ mandate is the interdisciplinary investigation of all relevant aspects of modern marine sciences, from sea floor geology to marine meteorology. Research is conducted worldwide in all oceans and adjacent seas.

The institute has four major research divisions:

In addition, GEOMAR contributes to the Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" and the collaborative research centre SFB754: "Climate-Biogeochemistry Interactions in the Tropical Ocean", funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG).

GEOMAR cooperates closely with the University of Kiel in the education of future marine scientists.  Curricula include “Physics of the Earth System: Meteorology – Oceanography – Geophysics” for the Bachelor’s degree and internationally oriented Master’s courses such as “Climate Physics: Meteorology and Physical Oceanography” and “Biological Oceanography.” The institute also provides additional contributions to other curricula, such as Geology and Geophysics. GEOMAR also has cooperative programmes with other universities around the world, and special programmes for pupils and teachers aim to stimulate interest in the marine sciences at an early stage.

In addition, the institute operates four research vessels, state-of-the-art equipment such as the manned submersible JAGO, the deep-sea robots ROV KIEL6000, PHOCA and ABYSS as well as several major laboratories, access to high-performance computing facilities and an attractive public aquarium.

GEOMAR is among the three leading institutions in the field of marine sciences in Europe. Jointly with the National Oceanography Centre in the United Kingdom and Ifremer in France, GEOMAR has established the “G3 group” of national marine research centres. 

GEOMAR cooperates with a number of small companies active in marine technology and science, some of which were founded by former staff members of the institute. 

In addition, GEOMAR is active in a number of national and international committees and strategic alliances such as the German Marine Research Consortium (KDM), the German Climate Consortium (DKK), and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO).