A nutrient increment method for reducing bias in global biogeochemical models
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2010JC006142
Assimilation of physical variables into coupled physical/biogeochemical models poses considerable difficulties. One problem is that data assimilation can break relationships between physical and biological variables. As a consequence, biological tracers, especially nutrients, are incorrectly displaced in the vertical, resulting in unrealistic biogeochemical fields. To prevent this, we present the idea of applying an increment to the nutrient field within a data assimilating model to ensure that nutrient-potential density relationships are maintained within a water column during assimilation. After correcting the nutrients, it is assumed that other biological variables rapidly adjust to the corrected nutrient fields. We applied this method to a 17 year run of the 2° NEMO ocean-ice model coupled to the PlankTOM5 ecosystem model. Results were compared with a control with no assimilation, and with a model with physical assimilation but no nutrient increment. In the nutrient incrementing experiment, phosphate distributions were improved both at high latitudes and at the equator. At midlatitudes, assimilation generated unrealistic advective upwelling of nutrients within the boundary currents, which spread into the subtropical gyres resulting in more biased nutrient fields. This result was largely unaffected by the nutrient increment and is probably due to boundary currents being poorly resolved in a 2° model. Changes to nutrient distributions fed through into other biological parameters altering primary production, air-sea CO2 flux, and chlorophyll distributions. These secondary changes were most pronounced in the subtropical gyres and at the equator, which are more nutrient limited than high latitudes.