Assessing the value of biogeochemical Argo profiles versus ocean color observations for biogeochemical model optimization in the Gulf of Mexico

Wang, Bin; Fennel, Katja; Yu, Liuqian; Gordon, Christopher

Biogeochemical ocean models are useful tools but subject to uncertainties arising from simplifications, inaccurate parameterization of processes, and poorly known model parameters. Parameter optimization is a standard method for addressing the latter but typically cannot constrain all biogeochemical parameters because of insufficient observations. Here we assess the trade-offs between satellite observations of ocean color and biogeochemical (BGC) Argo profiles and the benefits of combining both observation types for optimizing biogeochemical parameters in a model of the Gulf of Mexico. A suite of optimization experiments is carried out using different combinations of satellite chlorophyll and profile measurements of chlorophyll, phytoplankton biomass, and particulate organic carbon (POC) from autonomous floats. As parameter optimization in 3D models is computationally expensive, we optimize the parameters in a 1D model version and then perform 3D simulations using these parameters. We show first that the use of optimal 1D parameters, with a few modifications, improves the skill of the 3D model. Parameters that are only optimized with respect to surface chlorophyll cannot reproduce subsurface distributions of biological fields. Adding profiles of chlorophyll in the parameter optimization yields significant improvements for surface and subsurface chlorophyll but does not accurately capture subsurface phytoplankton and POC distributions because the parameter for the maximum ratio of chlorophyll to phytoplankton carbon is not well constrained in that case. Using all available observations leads to significant improvements of both observed (chlorophyll, phytoplankton, and POC) and unobserved (e.g., primary production) variables. Our results highlight the significant benefits of BGC-Argo measurements for biogeochemical parameter optimization and model calibration.

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Wang, Bin / Fennel, Katja / Yu, Liuqian / et al: Assessing the value of biogeochemical Argo profiles versus ocean color observations for biogeochemical model optimization in the Gulf of Mexico. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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