Berlin Workshop

GLOBEC workshop on the impact of climate variability on marine ecosystems: a comparative approach

GLOBEC is organising a workshop on the "impact of climate variability on marine ecosystems: a comparative approach" in the Museum of Natural History.

The aim of this proposed workshop is to bring together representatives of national and regional GLOBEC programmes to conduct large-scale comparisons across marine systems and species types and to discuss the ramifications of these interactions. The workshop will enhance our understanding of the response of marine ecosystems to environmental change and improve our knowledge of the impact of climate variability on marine ecosystems. Through the comparative approach, it will help to elucidate mechanisms controlling the abundance and distributions of marine populations, including commercially important fish species. The improved mechanistic understanding of the coupling between physics and biology will, in turn, improve the reliability of predictions of the future composition of marine communities and provide a new basis for ecosystem and resource management.


  • to provide a survey of large-scale, long-term ecosystem changes throughout the world's oceans;
  • to identify apparent synchronies or asynchronies between these changes and to evaluate the ramifications to current understanding of marine ecosystem operation;
  • to gain insight into the causes and mechanisms underlying the major ecosystem changes;
  • to promote development of new, more powerful methodologies to quantitatively assess large-scale ecosystem changes;
  • to better understand how human exploitation modulates the response of marine populations and ecosystems to climate variability;
  • to further the assembly of the scientific understanding needed to effectively model the dominant modes of marine ecosystem variability in the world's oceans;
  • to determine the potential use of resulting model outputs for better management of present-day fisheries and in predicting possible future marine ecosystem structures under anthropogenic global climate change.


The workshop will follow the format of the Dahlem conferences. Participation is by invitation only. There will be no presentations during the meeting. However, some participants have been asked to provide background papers which will be available to the participants well in advance of the workshop and which will be the basis of the discussions during the workshop. These background papers together with the summaries of the discussions will be published in a special volume of the Journal of Marine Systems after peer-review shortly after the meeting.


The discussions will be held in four working groups focusing on:

  • Climate variability and teleconnection patterns of marine populations
  • Impacts of past climate variability on marine ecosystems (over the past two millenia)
  • Mechanisms linking climate variability to marine ecosystems
  • Sensitivity of marine ecosystems to climate and human exploitation.

The working titles of the background papers are:

  • Synchronies in fish population fluctuations within and between ocean basins
  • Global comparisons of zooplankton time series
  • Climatic teleconnection patterns forcing marine ecosystems
  • Paleo evidence for the variability of upwelling and other systems prior to industrialised fishing
  • Historical evidence for the variability of fish populations prior to industrialised fishing
  • Linking climate to population dynamics: integrative concepts and novel constructs
  • Major routes by which climate signals force marine populations
  • How does human exploitation alter marine populations and ecosystem sensitivity to climate?

The workshop will be chaired by Jürgen Alheit, Ken Drinkwater and Ian Perry, and is a contribution to GLOBEC's Integration and Synthesis. If you would like to be informed of the outcome of the meeting please contact the chairs or the GLOBEC IPO.

Participants of the workshop can upload and view background papers using the workshop pages. If you would like access to the pages please contact the GLOBEC IPO,