Validation of Stratification-Driven Phytoplankton Biomass and Nutrient Concentrations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean as Simulated by EC-Earth

Nomikos Skyllas, Richard Bintanja, Anita Buma, CPD BRUSSAARD, Matthias Gröger, Jenny Hieronymus, Willem van de Poll

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Abstract

We validated simulations of the Earth system model (ESM) EC-Earth-NEMO of present-day temperature, salinity, nutrient, and chlorophyll a profiles with in situ observations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean (29–63º N). Simulations with standard parametrization (run 1) and improved parametrization of vertical mixing (run 2) were compared. Run 1 showed shallower mixed layer depths (MLDs) in spring as compared to observations owing to lower salinities in the upper 200 m of the subpolar North Atlantic (>55º N). This coincided with a mismatch with observed timing and magnitude of the phytoplankton spring bloom. In contrast, the model performed well south of 55º N. Run 2 showed improved springtime MLD, phytoplankton dynamics, and nutrient distributions in the subpolar North Atlantic. Our study underlines the sensitivity of subpolar North Atlantic phytoplankton blooms to surface freshening, suggesting that future fresh-water inflow from Arctic and Greenland Ice sheet melting could significantly affect phytoplankton productivity. These findings contribute to the generic validation of the EC-Earth ESM and underline the need for rigorous validation of physics-biology links, in particular the sub polar North Atlantic where complex seasonal stratification/vertical mixing processes govern upper ocean phytoplankton productivity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number450
Number of pages15
JournalGeosciences
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21-Oct-2019

Keywords

  • North Atlantic
  • Earth system models
  • EC-Earth
  • NEMO
  • PISCES
  • carbon cycle
  • phytoplankton
  • Stratiphyt
  • model validation
  • stratification
  • nutrients
  • chlorophyll a
  • mixed layer depth
  • FRESH-WATER DISCHARGE
  • COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
  • MODEL
  • PRODUCTIVITY
  • COMPONENT
  • GRADIENT
  • EXPORT

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