People > Dr Stefano Ciavatta

Dr Stefano Ciavatta

Marine System Scientist/Modeller

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Stefano Ciavatta is a Senior Scientist at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and UK National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO). He leads the Data Assimilation research and development of the “Marine Ecosystems Models and Prediction” (MEMP) Department at PML. Stefano has a PhD in Environmental Sciences, achieved at the University of Venice, Italy. He has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications on marine ecosystem analysis and modelling (see list of recent publications).

Stefano’s main scientific activities are the analysis of the regional and global carbon cycle and the prediction of indicators of marine ecosystem health and services (e.g. coastal eutrophication, ocean acidification and deoxygenation, and aquaculture sustainability) in a changing climate landscape. Stefano develops and applies biogeochemical data assimilation systems, to improve the simulations of global and regional marine models (e.g., NEMO-ERSEM and NEMO-MEDUSA). He applies data assimilation also with time-series models, to investigate the trend and seasonal cycle of marine biogeochemical data, and to understand changes in the plankton trophic dynamics. Stefano assimilates and analyses data from both remote sensing and in situ platforms (e.g. ocean-colour phytoplankton functional type and optical products from satellites, as well as nutrients, pH, oxygen from gliders, floats and moorings).

Other areas of research and application are the sensitivity/uncertainty analysis of marine system models, including pollutant bioaccumulation models, and the statistical analysis of monitoring data.


Water-ForCE: Water scenarios For Copernicus Exploitation

Contact: Stefan Simis

Water-ForCE is co-creating a Roadmap for the development of the next phase of Copernicus Inland Water Services with the space sector, research...

SEAMLESS: Services based on Ecosystem data AssiMiLation: Essential Science and Solutions (SEAMLESS)

Contact: Dr Stefano Ciavatta

SEAMLESS aims at improving the current European capability to simulate and predict the state of marine ecosystems. The project is led by PML...

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Other key projects

FP7 Project OPEC (OPerational ECology, Marine ecosystem forecasting), European Commission.

FP7 Project MEDINA (Marine Ecosystem Dynamics and Indicators for North Africa) , European Commission.

NCEO “Carbon Cycle” Project (National Centre for Earth Observation, Carbon cycle), NERC, UK.

CMCC Project (Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici), CMCC, Italy.

Recent publications

Ciavatta S, S. Kay, R.J.W. Brewin, R. Cox, A. Di Cicco, F. Nencioli, L. Polimene, M. Sammartino, R. Santoleri, J. Skákala, M. Tsapakis (2019). Ecoregions in the Mediterranean Sea through the reanalysis of phytoplankton functional types and carbon fluxes. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. OCEANS, ISSN: 2169-9291, doi:

De Mey-Frémaux P, Ayoub N, Barth A, Brewin R, Charria G, Campuzano F, Ciavatta S, Cirano M, Edwards C A., Federico I, Gao S, Garcia Hermosa I, Garcia Sotillo M, Hewitt H, Hole LR, Holt J, King R, Kourafalou V, Lu Y, Mourre B, Pascual A, Staneva J, Stanev E V., Wang H, Zhu X (2019). Model-Observations Synergy in the Coastal Ocean. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, ISSN: 2296-7745, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00436

Fennel K, Gehlen M, Brasseur P, Brown C W., Ciavatta S, Cossarini G, Crise A, Edwards C A., Ford D, Friedrichs M A. M., Gregoire M, Jones E, Kim H-C, Lamouroux J, Murtugudde R, Perruche C, the GODAE OceanView Marine Ecosystem Analysis and Prediction Task Team (2019). Advancing Marine Biogeochemical and Ecosystem Reanalyses and Forecasts as Tools for Monitoring and Managing Ecosystem Health. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, ISSN: 2296-7745, doi:

Groom S, Sathyendranath S, Ban Y, Bernard S, Brewin R, Brotas V, Brockmann C, Chauhan P, Choi J-k, Chuprin A, Ciavatta S, Cipollini P, Donlon C, Franz B, He X, Hirata T, Jackson T, Kampel M, Krasemann H, Lavender S, Pardo-Martinez S, Mélin F, Platt T, Santoleri R, Skakala J, Schaeffer B, Smith M, Steinmetz F, Valente A, Wang M (2019). Satellite Ocean Colour: Current Status and Future Perspective. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, ISSN: 2296-7745, doi:

Moore A M., Martin M J., Akella S, Arango H G., Balmaseda M, Bertino L, Ciavatta S, Cornuelle B, Cummings J, Frolov S, Lermusiaux P, Oddo P, Oke P R., Storto A, Teruzzi A, Vidard A, Weaver A T. (2019). Synthesis of Ocean Observations Using Data Assimilation for Operational, Real-Time and Reanalysis Systems: A More Complete Picture of the State of the Ocean. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, ISSN: 2296-7745, doi:

Ciavatta S, Brewin RJ, Skákala J, Polimene L, de Mora L, Artioli Y, Allen JI (2018). Assimilation of Ocean-Color Plankton Functional Types to Improve Marine Ecosystem Simulations. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. OCEANS, ISSN: 2169-9291, doi: 10.1002/2017JC013490

GonÇalves Leles S, Polimene L, Bruggeman J, Blackford J, Ciavatta S, Mitra A, Flynn KJ (2018). Modelling mixotrophic functional diversity and implications for ecosystem function . JOURNAL OF PLANKTON RESEARCH, vol. 40, ISSN: 0142-7873, doi:

Sankar S, Polimene L, Marin L, Menon N, Samuelsen A, Pastres R, Ciavatta S (2018). Sensitivity of the simulated Oxygen Minimum Zone to biogeochemical processes at an oligotrophic site in the Arabian Sea . ECOLOGICAL MODELLING, vol. 372, p. 12-23, ISSN: 0304-3800, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.01.016

Skákala J, Ford DA, Brewin RJ, McEwan R, Kay S, Taylor BH, de Mora L, Ciavatta S (2018). The assimilation of phytoplankton functional types for operational forecasting in the North-West European Shelf. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. OCEANS, ISSN: 2169-9291, doi: 10.1029/2018JC014153

Selected key publications

Lovato T., Ciavatta S, Brigolin D., Rubino A and R Pastres, 2013, Modelling dissolved oxygen and benthic algae dynamics in a coastal ecosystem by exploiting real-time monitoring data, Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 119, 17-30.

Roy, S., Broomhead, D., Platt, T., Sathyendranath, S., Ciavatta, S. 2012. Sequential variations of phytoplankton growth and mortality in an NPZ model: A remote-sensing-based assessment of the sequential variations of phytoplankton growth and mortality in an NPZ model. Journal of Marine Systems, 92(1), 16-29.

Ciavatta, S., R. Torres, S. Saux Picart and J.I. Allen, 2011. Can ocean color assimilation improve biogeochemical hindcasts in shelf seas?. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, C12043, 19 PP., doi:10.1029/2011JC007219.

Ciavatta, S., and R. Pastres, 2011. Exploring the long-term and interannual variability of biogeochemical variables in coastal areas by means of a data assimilation approach, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 91 (3), 411–422.

Ciavatta, S., Lovato T., Ratto M., Pastres R, 2009. Global Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis of a food web bioaccumulation model. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 28(4), 718-732.

Ciavatta, S., Pastres, R., Badetti, C., and Ferrari, G, Beck, M.B, 2008. Estimation of phytoplanktonic production and system respiration from data collected by a real-time monitoring network in the Lagoon of Venice. Ecological Modelling, 212, 28-36.

Other activities

Stefano is member of national and international committees and working groups including:

  • The OceanPredict Science Team (former GODAE), as co-chair of the “Marine Ecosystem Analysis and Prediction” Task Team.
  • The Executive Committee of the UK National Partnership for Ocean Prediction (NPOP), as chair of the “Marine Data Assimilation” Activity Group.
  • The Organizing Committee of the Data Assimilation Special Interest Group of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Stefano is also member of the Copernicus Marine Service working groups on “Biogeochemical Data Assimilation” and “Biogeochemical-Argo floats” and member of the International Ocean Color Coordination Group working group on Ocean Colour modelling.

Stefano is Associate Editor of the open-access journal Biogeosciences of the European Geoscience Union.

Stefano coordinated a number of international and national projects (see list).