A coupled 1-D biological/physical model of the northeast subarctic Pacific Ocean with iron limitation

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The recent NE subarctic Pacific study of the Canadian JGOFS project was designed primarily to address why phytoplankton biomass and production at Ocean Station Papa (OSP: 50 °N, 145 °W) are not as high as the nitrate concentrations could potentially support. To examine the possible role of iron (Fe) limitation in concert with microzooplankton grazing and physical supply of nitrate, we have coupled a four-compartment Nitrogen-Phytoplankton-Zooplankton-Detritus planktonic ecosystem model with a 60-layer (each 2 m thick) one-dimensional mixed-layer model (Mellor-Yamada level 2.5), driven by annual forcing characteristic of OSP. Both the physical and ecological models are forced with the same annual heat budget, mean phytoplankton concentration was tuned with the equilibrium solution of the model, and the zooplankton parameter values were chosen to be representative of microzooplankton. Modelled sea surface temperature ranged between 6 (fixed - late winter) and 13-14 °C, depending on the distribution and amount of phytoplankton and detritus calculated by the model. Simulations with Fe limitation reducing the maximum specific growth rate of phytoplankton (for Fe-replete conditions) by a factor of ~ 3 best reproduced the annual cycle of surface layer nitrate, although the resulting annual f-ratio calculated from the fluxes into and out of the nitrogen compartment was marginally higher than recent estimates of f-ratio based on observations at OSP. The best simulations with Fe limitation agreed with observations of the annual cycle of surface nitrate concentration, the f-ratio, particulate nitrogen concentration in the euphotic layer, the export production, and the remineralization depth scale for sinking detritus, to within ~ 50%, probably within the range of observational uncertainty and/or seasonal and interannual variability. Possible modifications include separating the detrital pool into suspended and sinking organic matter, decreasing the rate of remineralization with increasing depth, and examining the supply of nitrate to the surface layer by means of horizontal advection. The observational basis required to formulate these processes is marginal at present.




Denman, K. L., & Peña, M. A. (1999). A coupled 1-D biological/physical model of the northeast subarctic Pacific Ocean with iron limitation. Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 46(11–12), 2877–2908. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-0645(99)00087-9

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