Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
06 Dec 2006
06 Dec 2006

Mechanisms controlling primary and new production in a global ecosystem model – Part I: Validation of the biological simulation

E. E. Popova, A. C. Coward, G. A. Nurser, B. de Cuevas, M. J. R. Fasham, and T. R. Anderson

Abstract. A global general circulation model coupled to a simple six-compartment ecosystem model is used to study the extent to which global variability in primary and export production can be realistically predicted on the basis of advanced parameterizations of upper mixed layer physics, without recourse to introducing extra complexity in model biology. The "K profile parameterization" (KPP) scheme employed, combined with 6-hourly external forcing, is able to capture short-term periodic and episodic events such as diurnal cycling and storm-induced deepening. The model realistically reproduces various features of global ecosystem dynamics that have been problematic in previous global modelling studies, using a single generic parameter set. The realistic simulation of deep convection in the North Atlantic, and lack of it in the North Pacific and Southern Oceans, leads to good predictions of chlorophyll and primary production in these contrasting areas. Realistic levels of primary production are predicted in the oligotrophic gyres due to high frequency external forcing of the upper mixed layer (accompanying paper Popova et al., 2006) and novel parameterizations of zooplankton excretion. Good agreement is shown between model and observations at various JGOFS time series sites: BATS, KERFIX, Papa and HOT. One exception is the northern North Atlantic where lower grazing rates are needed, perhaps related to the dominance of mesozooplankton there. The model is therefore not globally robust in the sense that additional parameterizations are needed to realistically simulate ecosystem dynamics in the North Atlantic. Nevertheless, the work emphasises the need to pay particular attention to the parameterization of mixed layer physics in global ocean ecosystem modelling as a prerequisite to increasing the complexity of ecosystem models.