A perturbed biogeochemistry model ensemble evaluated against in situ and satellite observations

Anugerahanti, Prima; Roy, Shovonlal; Haines, Keith

The dynamics of biogeochemical models are determined by the mathematical equations used to describe the main biological processes. Earlier studies have shown that small changes in the model formulation may lead to major changes in system dynamics, a property known as structural sensitivity. We assessed the impact of structural sensitivity in a biogeochemical model of intermediate complexity by modelling the chlorophyll and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentrations. The model is run at five different oceanographic stations spanning three different regimes: oligotrophic, coastal, and the abyssal plain, over a 10-year timescale to observe the effect in different regions. A 1-D Model of Ecosystem Dynamics, nutrient Utilisation, Sequestration, and Acidification (MEDUSA) ensemble was used with each ensemble member having a combination of tuned function parameterizations that describe some of the key biogeochemical processes, namely nutrient uptake, zooplankton grazing, and plankton mortalities. The impact is quantified using phytoplankton phenology (initiation, bloom time, peak height, duration, and termination of phytoplankton blooms) and statistical measures such as RMSE (root-mean-squared error), mean, and range for chlorophyll and nutrients. The spread of the ensemble as a measure of uncertainty is assessed against observations using the normalized RMSE ratio (NRR). We found that even small perturbations in model structure can produce large ensemble spreads. The range of 10-year mean surface chlorophyll concentration in the ensemble is between 0.14 and 3.69 mg minline-formula−3 at coastal stations, 0.43 and 1.11 mg minline-formula−3 on the abyssal plain, and 0.004 and 0.16 mg minline-formula−3 at the oligotrophic stations. Changing both phytoplankton and zooplankton mortalities and the grazing functions has the largest impact on chlorophyll concentrations. The in situ measurements of bloom timings, duration, and terminations lie mostly within the ensemble range. The RMSEs between in situ observations and the ensemble mean and median are mostly reduced compared to the default model output. The NRRs for monthly variability suggest that the ensemble spread is generally narrow (NRR 1.21–1.39 for DIN and 1.19–1.39 for chlorophyll profiles, 1.07–1.40 for surface chlorophyll, and 1.01–1.40 for depth-integrated chlorophyll). Among the five stations, the most reliable ensembles are obtained for the oligotrophic station ALOHA (for the surface and integrated chlorophyll and bloom peak height), for coastal station L4 (for inter-annual mean), and for the abyssal plain station PAP (for bloom peak height). Overall our study provides a novel way to generate a realistic ensemble of a biogeochemical model by perturbing the model equations and parameterizations, which will be helpful for the probabilistic predictions.



Anugerahanti, Prima / Roy, Shovonlal / Haines, Keith: A perturbed biogeochemistry model ensemble evaluated against in situ and satellite observations. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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