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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2018-187
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Model evaluation paper 07 Aug 2018

Model evaluation paper | 07 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).

A High-resolution Biogeochemical Model (ROMS 3.4 + bio_Fennel) of the East Australian Current System

Carlos Rocha1, Christopher A. Edwards2, Moninya Roughan1,3, Paulina Cetina-Heredia1, and Colette Kerry1 Carlos Rocha et al.
  • 1Coastal and Regional Oceanography Lab, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UNSW Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
  • 2Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, United States
  • 3School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

Abstract. Understanding phytoplankton dynamics is critical across a range of topics, spanning from fisheries management to climate change mitigation. It is particularly interesting in the East Australian Current (EAC) System, as the region’s eddy field strongly conditions nutrient availability and, therefore, phytoplankton growth. Numerical models provide unparalleled insight into these biogeochemical dynamics. Yet, to date, modelling efforts off southeastern Australia have either targeted case studies (small spatial and temporal scales) or encompassed the whole EAC System but focused on climate change effects at the mesoscale (with a spatial resolution of 1/10º). Here we couple a model of the pelagic nitrogen cycle (bio_Fennel) to a 10-year high-resolution (2.5–5km horizontal) three-dimensional ocean model (ROMS) to resolve both regional and finer scale biogeochemical processes occurring in the EAC System. We use several statistical metrics to compare the simulated surface chlorophyll to an ocean colour dataset (Copernicus-GlobColour) for the 2003–2011 period and show that the model can reproduce the observed phytoplankton surface patterns with a domain-wide rmse of approximately 0.2mgchlam−3 and a correlation coefficient of 0.76. This coupled configuration will provide a much-needed framework to examine phytoplankton variability in the EAC System providing insight into important ecosystem dynamics such as regional nutrient supply mechanisms and biogeochemical cycling occurring in EAC eddies.

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Short summary
Off southeast Australia, the East Australian Current (EAC) moves warm, nutrient-poor waters towards the pole. In this region, the EAC and a large number of vortices pinching off it strongly affect phytoplankton’s access to nutrients and light. To study these dynamics, we created a numerical model that is able to solve the ocean conditions and how they modulate the foundation of the region’s ecosystem. We validated model results against available data and this showed that the model performs well.
Off southeast Australia, the East Australian Current (EAC) moves warm, nutrient-poor waters...
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