Acartia tonsa & Alexandrium minutum & Prorocentrum micans. Photo: Erik Selander


DTU Aqua's research into oceanography focuses on understanding the interplay between physical, chemical and biological conditions in the ocean and how these factors impact the living conditions for marine organisms. 

Main themes within oceanography research

Physical, chemical and biological conditions in the ocean impact the living conditions for marine organisms such as plankton, fish and marine mammals. 

The physical and chemical conditions and processes include ocean currents, waves, temperature, salinity, freshwater influence and CO2. We conduct research into how these conditions affect marine ecosystems and aim to understand the physical-biological interactions that link organisms through marine food webs.  

We study individuals, populations and ecosystems and use a wide range of ecological approaches, focusing particularly on planktonic organisms, marine food webs in open waters, marine ecosystems in Arctic regions and how these are impacted by climate change.  

Research into oceanography has five main themes:

  • Plankton behaviour and ecology
    DTU Aqua examines planktonic organisms and their behaviour, feeding, growth, reproduction and distribution using theoretical and experimental studies. DTU Aqua conducts field studies of ecosystem dynamics with particular focus on the impact of plankton on the ecology of open waters.
  • Fish in open marine areas
    DTU Aqua studies drift, feeding, development and growth of fish larvae and how larvae are recruited to fish stocks. We look at the role of fish stocks in relation to other compartments of marine food webs, e.g. their role as predators on plankton and as food for other fish, marine mammals and birds. 
  • Marine biodiversity
    DTU Aqua is working to understand the mechanisms in which evolution, ecology and climate interact in determining the distribution of living organisms. We look at how fisheries impact ecosystems through changing food webs, climate induced variations in fish populations and historical developments in the stocks.
  • The Arctic and the climate
    DTU Aqua is committed to carrying out research on climate-related changes in marine food webs in the Arctic. Through field studies and laboratory experiments, we generate new knowledge concerning the interactions between climate, oceanography, plankton and fish in Greenland waters. We examine the effect of changes in ocean currents, glacial melting and the impact of changing local weather patterns on the physical and biological marine conditions around Greenland.
  • Energy and CO2
    DTU Aqua studies the flow of energy and carbon through marine food webs. We look at how plankton is involved in regulating the vertical flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water column and how mass and energy are transferred through planktonic ecosystems.

Why do we do research in oceanography?

DTU Aqua’s oceanography research focuses on understanding the dynamics and interplay between the physical and biological environment of the sea. The knowledge of this interplay forms the basis for assessments of the abundance of plankton, fish and other marine organisms, thus providing insight into the degree to which marine resources can be used sustainably.  

Marine ecosystems are affected by a multitude of factors, and our research contributes to understanding the dynamics of ecosystems, populations and individuals under different physical, chemical and biological conditions.  

We study marine biodiversity, and examine how it is connected to specific ecosystems and species, and how it works and develops in relation to the environmental conditions. Our knowledge will contribute to establishing how we can maintain a healthy diversity within marine ecosystems and utilize them in a sustainable manner.  

We aim to improve our knowledge and assessment of climate change in order to understand its effect on the environment, on ecosystems and on the individual species and populations of plankton, fish, birds and marine mammals. Through this, we can learn how to mitigate or best adapt to the effects of climate change.  

Research into oceanography supports ecosystem models including modelling the impact of environmental and climate change on marine ecosystems.  

What is the research used for?

Oceanographic research focuses on providing causal  and mechanistic relationships, and contributes to ecosystem-based consulting services for Danish and international authorities, industry and organisations with particular environmental and fisheries concerns.  

DTU Aqua’s researchers collaborate extensively with other institutions, Danish as well as international.

DTU Aqua leads Centre for Ocean Life, an interdisciplinary centre that involves three Danish universities and three DTU departments. The Centre develops models of marine ecosystems with the aim to enhance the fundamental understanding of marine life and assess and predict the impacts of environmental changes on marine ecosystems.     

Oceanographic research will provide us with a better basis for designing models for ecosystems, biodiversity and climate change. In the long term, the results could be used to forecast the amount of fish in a certain marine area can support, and to predict future climate impact on marine ecosystems.  

The research thus contributes to formulating strategies for resource management and protection, also in a changing climate. 



Research Leader
André W. Visser
Ph. +45 35 88 34 25

Sustainable Development Goals

DTU Aqua's research into oceanography supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG #14   SDG #13

SDG #12