Evaluating Southern Ocean biological production in two ocean biogeochemical models on daily to seasonal timescales using satellite chlorophyll and O2 / Ar observations

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Abstract

We assess the ability of ocean biogeochemical models to represent seasonal structures in biomass and net community production (NCP) in the Southern Ocean. Two models are compared to observations on daily to seasonal time scales in four different sections of the region. We use daily satellite fields of Chlorophyll (Chl) as a proxy for biomass, and in-situ observations of O<sub>2</sub> and Ar supersaturation (&Delta;O<sub>2</sub>Ar) to estimate NCP. &Delta;O<sub>2</sub>Ar is converted to the flux of biologically generated O<sub>2</sub> from sea to air ("O<sub>2</sub> bioflux"). All data are aggregated to a climatological year with a daily resolution. To account for potential regional differences within the Southern Ocean, we conduct separate analyses of sections south of South Africa, around the Drake Passage, south of Australia, and south of New Zealand. <br><br> We find that the models simulate the upper range of Chl concentrations well, underestimate spring levels significantly, and show differences in skill between early and late parts of the growing season. While there is a great deal of scatter in the bioflux observations in general, the four sectors each have distinct patterns that the models pick up. Neither model exhibit a significant distinction between the Australian and New Zealand sectors, and between the Drake Passage and African sectors. South of 60° S, the models fail to predict the observed extent of biological O<sub>2</sub> undersaturation. We suggest that this shortcoming may be due either to problems with the ecosystem dynamics or problems with the vertical transport of oxygen. <br><br> Overall, the bioflux observations are in general agreement with the seasonal structures in satellite chlorophyll, suggesting that this seasonality represent changes in carbon biomass and not Chl : C ratios. This agreement is shared in the models and allows us to interpret the seasonal structure of satellite chlorophyll as qualitatively reflecting the integral of biological production over time for the purposes of model assessment.

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Jonsson, B. F., Doney, S., Dunne, J., & Bender, M. L. (2015). Evaluating Southern Ocean biological production in two ocean biogeochemical models on daily to seasonal timescales using satellite chlorophyll and O2 / Ar observations. Biogeosciences, 12(3), 681–695. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-12-681-2015

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