Clarissa R. Anderson
Executive Director
Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing Syste
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
8880 Biological Grade - 157 MESOM
La Jolla, CA 92093-0206
clrander AT ucsd DOT edu
(858) 246-2226

About Me
I am a biological oceanographer with expertise in ecological forecasting and remote sensing. My research has focused on the prediction of harmful algal blooms in estuarine and coastal ecosystems as well as the fate and transport of harmful toxins to deeper waters and sediments. As research faculty at UC Santa Cruz, I established the California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) system with NASA support, now operational at NOAA NESDIS. I continue to work on projects at Scripps Institution of Oceanography developing new modeling methods for HABs and their application to management in collaboration with students and postdocs. I am an elected member of the Science Advisory Team for the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), the National HAB Committee (NHC), and the Steering Committee for the California Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Alert Program (Cal-HABMAP).

At SIO, I am the Executive Director of SCCOOS, where I manage a large network of real-time ocean observing and modeling systems that range from high-frequency radar for surface current measurements, ecosystem moorings, wave buoys, operational autonomous underwater vehicles, automated shore station measurements of water quality, seabird observations, fisheries cruise support, real-time circulation models, and harmful algal bloom and ocean acidification monitoring.

I recognize the need to adopt a trans-disciplinary approach to understanding the changes taking place in our oceans and how those changes cascade to higher trophic levels. My interdisciplinary background in Earth System Science allows me to apply my knowledge to myriad projects that address crucial societal issues facing the ocean. The crux of my job is team work, whether that be my programmatic and data management team, SCCOOS governance boards, teams of science PIs for targeted projects, 100+ stakeholder partners, or the entire U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) enterprise.

Publications listed on ResearchGate: 
SCCOOS website:
California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) System:
Personal website:
Funding support from:  NASA, NOAA, NSF, CA Sea Grant, CA Ocean Protection Council, David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Research Questions

What factors control algal bloom development and distribution in the coastal ocean?  What conditions are required for certain microalgal species to bloom and produce harmful toxins that affect marine and coastal food webs? How are these important biological phenomena tied to long-term natural or anthropogenic variability and climate? Can we predict them on short and long time scales to both protect ecosystem health and understand the future of coastal ocean ecology in a changing world? How can we apply and incorporate marine ecosystem science into the broader fields of global change and cultural adaptability?   


Ph.D. Marine Science, UC Santa Barbara
Dissertation: Environmental Controls of Phytoplankton Community Structure in the Santa Barbara Channel:            Application to the Dynamics and Detection of Toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia Blooms

B.A.  Integrative Biology & Art History, UC Berkeley 1999
Honor's Thesis: Aggregation in the Semi-Social Long-Jawed Orb Weaver (Tetragnatha versicolor) as a Function of River-Subsidized Prey Density

Tropical Biology Study Abroad Program - Monteverde , Costa Rica  1997
French Language Intensive - Sorbonne University, Paris  Summer 1995
Art History Intensive - E.U. Summer 1994

Positions, Service, & Awards

Advisory Board Member, The Ocean Foundation
Elected Member - Science Advisory Team, CA Ocean Protection Council
Elected Member - National Harmful Algal Bloom Committee (NHC)
Elected Steering Committee Member - Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Alert Program (HABMAP)
President Elect - Eastern Pacific Ocean Conference (EPOC)
OceanObs’19 Regional Coordination Network Committee
Steering Committee Member - E.U. Horizon 2020 Project- CoCliMe: Adapting to a Changing Marine Ecosystem
Technical Advisory Team - NOAA Monitoring and Event Response of Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) project (PI: Raphe Kudela)
Invited Member - NOAA Unified Modeling Framework, Marine Modeling Working Group
Invited Member - West Coast Ocean Forecast System Oversight Committee
Invited Member - West Coast Ocean Acidification & Hypoxia Monitoring Task Force
Member - AGU since 2008
Member - ASLO since 2001
Member - ISSHA since 2007
IOOS Association - Foundation Support Committee
IOOS Association - Modeling Committee
IOOS Association - HAB Committee
IOOS Association - Policy Committee
California Sea Grant "New Investigator" Award - UC Santa Cruz
Professional Researcher/Research Faculty/Lecturer - UC Santa Cruz
Postdoctoral Researcher - UC Santa Cruz  Kudela Lab
Postdoctoral Researcher -  University of South Carolina Benitez-Nelson Lab
Visiting Scientist - University of Maryland College Park  Murtugudde Lab
National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship - NOAA/NESDIS, Chris Brown
NASA Earth System Science Graduate Research Fellowship
 Siegel & Brzezinski Labs
Gompertz Undergraduate Research Fellowship Power Lab
Referee for peer-reviewed publications in Remote Sensing of Environment, Biogeosciences, Harmful Algae, Journal of Plankton Research, Aquatic Sciences, Revista de Biologia Marina y Oceanografia, Continental Shelf Research, Journal of Geophysical Research, Marine Drugs, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Progress in Oceanography, Journal of Marine Research, Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, Remote Sensing of Environment, Frontiers in Marine Science, Nature Scientific Reports

Publications (frequently updated on Research Gate)

Bresnahan, P., T. Wirth, T. Martz, K. Shipley, V. Rowley, C.R. Anderson, T. Grimm. (2020) Equipping smart coasts with marine water quality IoT sensors. Results in Engineering. 5. 10.1016/j.rineng.2019.100087

MacKenzie, B., L. Celliers, K. Larkin, L.P.F. Assad, J.J. Heymans, N. Rome, J. Thomas, C. Anderson, J. Behrens, M. Calverley, K. Desai, P. DiGiacomo + 21 authors (2019) The role of stakeholders in creating societal value from coastal and ocean observations. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:137. 10.1016/j.rineng.2019.100087

Anderson, C.R., E. Berdalet, R.M. Kudela, C. Cusack, J. Silke, E. O’Rourke, D. Dugan, M. McCammon, J.A. Newton, S.K. Moore, et al. (2019) Scaling up from regional case studies to a global harmful algal bloom observing system. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6: 250. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00250

C. Ramirez-Reyes, K. Brauman, R. Chaplin-Kramer, G.L. Galford, S.B. Adamo, C.B. Anderson, C. Anderson, G.R.H. Allington, KJ. Bagstad, + M.T. Coe, A.F. Cord + 16 authors. (2019)Reimagining the potential of Earth observations for ecosystem service assessments. Science of the Total Environment. 665: 1053-1063.  10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.150

Umhau, B., C.R. Benitez-Nelson, C.R. Anderson, Thunell, R.C., McCabe, K., and Burrell, C.A. (2018) Time series of water column distributions and sinking particle flux of Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid in the Santa Barbara Basin, California. Toxins, 10,doi:10.3390/toxins10110480

Wells, B.K., I.D. Schroeder, S. Bograd, E.L. Hazen, M.G. Jacox, A. Leising, N. Mantua, J.A. Santora, J. Fisher, W.T. Peterson, E. Bjorkstedt, R.R. Robertson, F.P. Chavez, R.  Goericke, R. Kudela, C. Anderson, + 27 authors. (2017) State of the California Current2016-17: still anything but “normal” in the north. CalCOFI Reports. Vol. 58.

Anderson, C.R., K.G. Sellner, and D.M. Anderson (2016) Bloom Prevention and Control. Invited chapter for UNESCO Manual: Desalination and Harmful Algal Blooms, Eds: D. Anderson, S. Boerlage, and M. Dixon, in press.
Karslon, B., C.R. Anderson, K.J. Coyne, R.M. Kudela, K.G. Sellner, and D.M. Anderson (2016) Designing an observing system for early detection of harmful algal blooms. UNESCO Manual: Desalination and Harmful Algal Blooms, Eds: D. Anderson, S. Boerlage, and M. Dixon, in press.

Kahru, M., R.M. Kudela, C.R. Anderson, and B.G.Mitchell (2015) Optimized merger of ocean chlorophyll algorithms ofMODIS-Aqua and VIIRS. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 12.11(2015): 2282-2285.

Anderson, C.R., S. Moore, M. Tomlinson, J. Silke, and C. Cusak (2015) Living with harmful algal blooms in a changing world: Strategies for modeling and mitigating their effects in coastal marine ecosystems. Invited chapter for Coastal and Marine Hazards, Risks, and Disasters volume, Eds:J. Ellis and D. Sherman, Elsevier B.V.,

Bograd, S., M.M. P. Buil, E. Di Lorenzo, C. Castro, I.D.Schroeder, R. Goericke, C.R. Anderson, C. Benitez-Nelson, and F. Whitney (2015) Changes in source waters to the Southern California Bight, Deep-SeaResearch II, Special Issue onCCE-LTER, 112:42-52.

Kahru, M., R.M. Kudela. C.R. Anderson, M. Manzano-Sarabia, B. G. Mitchell (2014) Evaluation of satellite retrievals of ocean chlorophyll-a in the California Current. Remote Sensing, 6: 8524-8540, doi: 10.3390/rs6098524

Kudela, R.M., S.A. Frolov, C.R. Anderson, and J.G.Bellingham (2013) Leveraging ocean observations to monitor and forecast harmful algal blooms: a case study of the U.S. West Coast, U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Summit Report

Sekula-Wood, E.S.,C.R. Benitez-Nelson, S.L. Morton, C.R. Anderson, C.W. Burrell, and R. Thunell (2011) Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid fluxes in Santa Barbara Basin (CA) from 1993 to 2008. Harmful Algae, doi:10.1016/j.hal.2011.04.009

Anderson, C.R.,R.M. Kudela, C.R. Benitez-Nelson, E.S. Sekula-Wood, C. Burrell, Y. Chao, G. Langlois, J. Goodman, D.A.Siegel (2011) Detecting toxic diatom blooms from ocean color and a regional model. Geophysical Research Letters, 38,L04603, doi:10.1029/2010GL045858. 

Anderson, C.R., M.R.P. Sapiano, M.B.K.,Prasad, W. Long,P.J. Tango, C.W. Brown, R. Murtugudde, (2010) Predicting toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia blooms in the Chesapeake Bay.  Journal of Marine Systems, GEOHAB Modeling Special Issue, doi10106/j.jmarsys.2010.04.003.

Prasad, M.B.K., M.R.P. Sapiano, W. Long, C.R. Anderson, R. Murtugudde (2010) Long-term variability of nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay: A retrospective analysis, 1990-2006. Estuaries and Coasts, 33: 1128-1143, doi: 10.1007/s12237-010-9325-y

Sekula-Wood, E.S., A. Schnetzer, C.R. Benitez-Nelson, C.R.Anderson, W. Berelson, J.Burns, D. Caron, J. Ferry, S.L. Morton, R.Thunell (2009) The toxin express:Rapid downward transport of the neurotoxin domoic acid in coastal waters. Nature Geoscience 2(4): 272-275, doi: 10.1038/NGEO472

Anderson, C.R., D.A. Siegel, R.M. Kudela, M.A.Brzezinski (2009) Empirical habitat models of toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia spp.: Potential use as a remote detection tool in the Santa Barbara Channel. Harmful Algae, 8: 478-492, doi: 10.1016/j.hal.2008.10.005

Anderson, C.R., D.A. Siegel, N. Guillocheau, M.A. Brzezinski (2008) Controls on temporal patterns in phytoplankton community structure in the Santa Barbara Channel, California, Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 113: C04038,doi:10.1029/2007JC004321.

Anderson, C.R., M.A. Brzezinski, L. Washburn, R.Kudela (2006) Circulation and environmental conditions during a toxigenic Pseudo-nitzschia australis bloom in the Santa Barbara Channel,California.  Marine Ecology Progress Series, 327: 119-133.

Power, M.E., W.E. Rainey, M.S. Parker, J.L. Sabo, A. Smyth, S. Khandwala, J.C. Finlay, F.C. McNeely, K. Marsee, and Anderson, C. (2004)  River-to-watershed subsidies in an old growth conifer forest.  In Food Webs at the Landscape Level. Eds: Gary A. Polis, Mary E. Power, and Gary R. Huxel., University of Chicago Press.


Invited Talks

Earth Science and Applications from Space Symposium in honor of Dr. Michael Freilich, National Academy of Sciences, D.C

Phycological Society of America, Plenary Speaker

21st Annual Perspectives on Science Lecture/Dinner Series at Point Loma Nazarene University



Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

U.S. Harmful Algal Bloom Symposium, Plenary Speaker, Baltimore, MD

The Marine Institute, Galway, Ireland

CICESE, Ensenada, Mexico

International Ocean Color Conference, San Francisco, CA

Humboldt State University, Humboldt, CA

The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, CA

Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System, Moss Landing, CA

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Elkhorn Slough, CA

Moss Landing Marine Laboratory, SJSU, Moss Landing, CA

NOAA Pacific Environmental Fisheries Laboratory, Pacific Grove, CA

Bodega Marine Laboratory, UC Davis, Bodega, CA            

University of Hawaii SOEST, Manoa, HI

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA (2011, 2015)

West Coast Regional Harmful Algal Bloom Summit, Portland, OR

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

University of South Carolina, Charleston & Columbia, SC

University of Maryland, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center

University of Maryland, Horn Point Laboratory, Cambridge, MD

In the News

NASA Earth Observatory


New York Times


Wild Wild West Coast

Watch AMERICA TONIGHT broadcast about domoic acid in California

The Press Democrat

LA Times article on 2015 historic domoic acid event

San Francisco Magazine

BBC Interview

NPR KQED Interview

Daily Nexus

NPR KALW Interview

KZSC interview

Successful Extramural Proposals/Projects

Persistence and Fate of Domoic Acid in the Santa Barbara Basin. NSF Chemical Oceanography Aug 2008, PI: Claudia Benitez-Nelson, postdoc: Clarissa AndersonForecasts and Projections of Environmental and Anthropogenic Impacts on Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Ecosystems.

Ocean Protection Council/CA Sea Grant June 2009, PI: Raphael Kudela, Co-Is: Dave Caron, Meredith Howard, Yi Chao, Burt Jones, Heather Kerkering, Clarissa Anderson (postdoc).

A Regional Comparison of Upwelling and Coastal Land Use Patterns on the Development of HAB Hotspots Along the California Coast, NOAA ECOHAB Oct 2009, PI: Raphael Kudela, Co-Is: Clarissa Anderson, Dave Caron, Burt Jones, Guarav Sukhatme, Chris Scholin, John Ryan, Jim Birch, Kanna Rajan, Heather Kerkering, G Jason Smith,Yi Chao, Greg Doucette.

Forecasting Domoic Acid Production in Coastal California, NOAA/CA Sea Grant, PI: Clarissa Anderson, Co-PIs: Christopher Edwards, Raphael Kudela

Forecasting Diatom Toxin Production in the California Current System, OST Packard Foundation, PI: Clarissa Anderson, Co-PIs: Raphael Kudela, Jason Smith.Novel Blending of Numerical/Statistical Models and Satellite Data to Improve Coastal Water Quality Predictions, NASA Water Quality, PI: Clarissa Anderson, Co-PIs: RaphaelKudela, Neil Banas, Mati Kahru, Samantha Siedlecki.

Merging Satellite and Numerical Model Data in the California Current to Create Continuous Imagery and Forecasts of Harmful Algal Blooms, NASA Applied Sciences, PI: Clarissa Anderson, Co-PIs: Raphael Kudela, Mati Kahru, Leslie Rosenfeld, Richard Stumpf, David Green.

Tracking toxic algal blooms from Southern California Bight to Northern Baja California, UC MEXUS-CONACYT, PI: David Rivas Camargo, Co-PIs: Sarah Giddings, Clarissa Anderson

Domoic Acid in Marine Food Webs: A Novel Approach to Trace Nitrogen Sources and Transfer, OST Packard Foundation, Co-PIs: Clarissa Anderson, Iliana Ruiz-Cooley, Raphael Kudela

Harmful Algal Bloom response to the 2016 ENSO event in the California Current, NASA Rapid Response, Co-PIs: Clarissa Anderson, Raphael Kudela

GEOCAPE Scheduling Team; science advisor for team at NASA Ames Research Center, 2014-2015

ECOHAB17: Integrated Modeling of the Harmful Genus Pseudo-nitzschia spp. to Support Ecosystem Prediction and Environmental Management in the Southern California Current System, NOAA NCCOS, PIs: Daniele Bianchi, Clarissa Anderson, Jim McWilliams, Raphael Kudela, Martha Sutula

Advancing the West Coast Ocean Forecasting System through Assessment, Model Development, and Ecological Products, IOOS Coastal Ocean Modeling Testbed, PIs: Christopher Edwards, Clarissa Anderson, Alexander Kurapov, Parker MacCready, Raphael Kudela, Henry Ruhl, Jan Newton, Elliott Hazen, Michael Jacox

ECOHAB19: Oceanographic and Cellular Controls on Domoic Acid Production in the Central and Southern California Current System, NOAA NCCOS, PIs: Andrew Allen, Bradley Moore, Clarissa Anderson, Drew Lucas, John Ryan, Christopher Scholin, Jim Birch, Gregory Doucette

Implementation of an Automated Early Warning System for Harmful Algal Bloom Events in California, CA Ocean Protection Council, PIs: Clarissa Anderson, Andrew Barton, Uwe Send, Raphael Kudela and 8 other institutions

Integrated Ocean Observing Systems for Assessing Marine Protected Areas across California, CA Ocean Protection Council/CA Sea Grant, PIs: Henry Ruhl, Clarissa Anderson, Christopher Edwards

Coastlines and People (CoPe Research Coordination Network: New Technology to Inform Coastal Science and Management, National Science Foundation, PIs: Robert Miller, Emmanuele Di Lorenzo, Nicholas Nidzieko, Erika Eliason, Corey Garza, Allyson Santoro, Clarissa Anderson