Photosynthetic assimilation of carbon dioxide and inorganic nutrients by phytoplankton constitutes a necessary prerequisite for sustaining marine life. This process is tightly linked to the concentration of chlorophyll in the ocean's euphotic zone. According to a recent field study marine chlorophyll(a) concentrations have declined over the last century with an estimated global rate of 1.0% of the global median per year. Here we attempt to identify possible mechanisms which could explain such trends. We explore these questions using an ocean general circulation model forced with documented historic and projected future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide according to the IPCC SRES A1FI emission scenario until the year 2100. We further extend the time period covered by the A1FI scenario by assuming a linear decline in emissions from 2100 to 2200 and keeping them at zero levels until 2400. Our numerical simulations reveal only weak reductions in chlorophyll(a) concentrations during the twentieth century, but project a 50% decline between 2000 and 2200. We identify a local and a remotely acting mechanism for this reduction in the North Atlantic: (I) increased sea surface temperatures reduce local deep mixing and, hence, reduce the nutrient supply from waters at intermediate depths; (II) a steady shoaling of the Atlantic overturning cell tends to transport increasingly nutrient depleted waters from the Southern Hemisphere toward the north, leading to further diminishment of nutrient supply. These results provide support for a temperature-driven decline in ocean chlorophyll(a) and productivity, but suggest that additional mechanisms need to be invoked to explain observed declines in recent decades.