Tel.: 0431-600 4177
Fax: 0431-600 134001
Raum Nr.: 420, west shore campus
Email: lpatara(at)


GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research
Düsternbrooker Weg 20
24105 Kiel, Germany


I am interested in understanding how ocean circulation shapes marine biogeochemistry and its response to climate change.

Main research interests are:

Southern Ocean circulation and mesoscale eddies: by using high-resolution ocean models, up to 0.1º in the Southern Ocean (Fig. 1), I am interested in understanding how the interaction of wind, buoyancy forcing, and sea ice affects the Southern Ocean circulation, and how this is modulated by concomitant changes in the strong mesoscale eddy field of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). 

Research highlights:

  • Recent changes in Southern Ocean climate caused an increase in interior ventilation since the 1980s thanks to the combined effect of wind stress and buoyancy forcing (link).
  • Changing Southern Ocean properties may have remote effects on other components of the climate system: in this study, we suggested that the ongoing warming around Antarctica may strengthen the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation.
  • Wind variability and trends affect the mesoscale eddy field more strongly in the Indo-Pacific than in the Atlantic sector, which is characterized by a higher degree of intrinsic variability (link).
  • Changing climate conditions affect not only the eddy kinetic energy but also other properties (size, lifetime, amplitude) of the mesoscale eddy field in the ACC (Master Thesis project of Mariana Pacheco).

Ocean carbon uptake: in my DFG project, I am investigating the physical drivers of the Southern Ocean carbon sink in present and future climate conditions. I use and further developed global ocean biogeochemistry models with resolutions ranging from 0.5º to 0.25º to 0.1º in the ACC regime (Fig. 2).

Research highlights:

  • Model resolution affects the Southern Ocean carbon uptakeeddy-rich simulations have higher anthropogenic carbon uptake than coarse models with an eddy parameterization, because of different interior density structures and circulation (ongoing work).
  • Wind stress drives most of interannual and decadal changes in Southern Ocean carbon uptake at subpolar latitudes (through changes in upwelling), buoyancy forcing drives most of the variability at middle latitudes (through changes in mixing) (ongoing work).
  • I contributed to RECCAP-2 assessment of regional carbon cycle processes and in particular to the Southern Ocean carbon cycle assessment.
  • A novel adaptive machine learning method tailored to consider underlying ocean data distribution to recognize clusters was devised to detect and track carbon uptake regimes over the global ocean (PhD project of Sweety Mohanty). 

Bio-physical interactions in the climate system: Since my graduate studies, I was fascinated by how ocean, climate and marine biogeochemistry interact with each other on different spatio-temporal scales.

Research highlights:

  • Phytoplankton radiative heating affects sea surface temperature and climate, and may amplify the greenhouse effect by enhancing atmospheric water vapor (link). 
  • The marine biogeochemical responses to the North Atlantic Oscillation are governed by different mechanisms on interannual time scales (vertical mixing dominates) and decadal time scales (slow ocean circulation adjustments dominate) (link).
  • In the North Pacific Ocean the flow of carbon to the microbial loop is enhanced under global warming, and phytoplanktonic stoichiometry becomes nutrient-depleted (link).
  • Oxygen variability and trends over the past 60 years vary widely on a regional scale in connection to local changes in solubility, ventilation and remineralization (Master Thesis of Helene Hollitzer).


2012-now: Employed at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), Kiel, Germany

2010-2011: Employed at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR), Kiel, Germany.

2007-2010: Employed at the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change (CMCC), Bologna, Italy.

2005-2007: Employed at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), Bologna, Italy.


2010: Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Bologna, Italy, with additional “European Doctor” accreditation.

2005: M. Sc. in Environmental Sciences (magna cum laude) at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy.


2021-now: DFG own position project “Physical drivers of the Southern Ocean carbon sink in a changing climate”, Research Scientist/PI

2018-2021: GEOMAR Postdoc Research Group "CO2 uptake and export in the subpolar oceans: simulations with high-resolution ocean biogeochemistry models", Research Scientist/PI

2013-2017: Cluster of Excellence “Future Ocean” Postdoc Project: Southern Ocean CO2 uptake in high-resolution ocean-biogeochemistry simulations (funded by the German Research Foundation), Research Scientist/PI (

2010-2012: R’Eddy: Effects of eddy variability on the response of the ACC to global warming (funded by the German Research Foundation), Research Scientist

2008-2010: VECTOR: VulnErability of the Italian coastal area and marine Ecosystems to Climatic changes and Their rOle in the Mediterranean caRbon cycles (funded by the Italian Ministry of Research), Research Scientist

2005-2007: DYNAMITE: Understanding the Dynamics of the Coupled Climate System (EU FP7), Research Scientist


2023-now: Supervision of the Master Thesis project in Biological Oceanography of Helene Hollitzer: “Controls of recent patterns and trends\\in global oceanic oxygen content”

2022-now: Supervision of the PhD Thesis project of Sweety Mohanty funded by the MarDATA graduate school: “Neural networks reveal evolving patterns of ocean carbon uptake”

2021-2022: Supervision of the Master Thesis in Climate Physics project of Mariana Pacheco: “Properties of Southern Ocean mesoscale eddies in coupled and uncoupled model simulations”

2019-2020: Supervision of the Postdoc project of Jan Klaus Rieck.

2016-2019: Member of the ISOS PhD committee of Patricia Handmann.

2016: Supervision of the Bachelor Thesis project of Christina Schmidt.

2013-2014: Tutorial to the lecture “Ocean and Atmosphere Dynamics” within the B.Sc. “Physik des Erdsystems” of the Kiel University. Duration: 2 semesters.

2013: Supervision of the Master Thesis project of Eva Nowatzki.

2011: Student training within the capacity building cruise MSM19/a on board the R/V Merian cruise in the Benguela Upwelling.