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Open AccessArticle

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

1
Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, and Utrecht University, 1790 AB Den Burg, The Netherlands
2
Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), 3731 GA De Bilt, The Netherlands
3
Department of Ocean Ecosystems, Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen, University of Groningen, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
4
Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI SE-601 76 Norrköping, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Department of Physical Oceanography and Instrumentation, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, 18119 Rostock, Germany.
Geosciences 2019, 9(10), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9100450
Received: 26 September 2019 / Accepted: 17 October 2019 / Published: 21 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: North Atlantic; Earth system models; EC-Earth; NEMO; PISCES; carbon cycle; phytoplankton; Stratiphyt; model validation; stratification; nutrients; chlorophyll a; mixed layer depth North Atlantic; Earth system models; EC-Earth; NEMO; PISCES; carbon cycle; phytoplankton; Stratiphyt; model validation; stratification; nutrients; chlorophyll a; mixed layer depth
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Skyllas, N.; Bintanja, R.; Buma, A.G.J.; Brussaard, C.P.D.; Gröger, M.; Hieronymus, J.; van de Poll, W.H. Validation of Stratification-Driven Phytoplankton Biomass and Nutrient Concentrations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean as Simulated by EC-Earth. Geosciences 2019, 9, 450.

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