A regional hindcast model simulating ecosystem dynamics, inorganic carbon chemistry, and ocean acidification in the Gulf of Alaska

Hauri, Claudine; Schultz, Cristina; Hedstrom, Katherine; Danielson, Seth; Irving, Brita; Doney, Scott C.; Dussin, Raphael; Curchitser, Enrique N.; Hill, David F.; Stock, Charles A.

The coastal ecosystem of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) is especially vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification and climate change. Detection of these long-term trends requires a good understanding of the system’s natural state. The GOA is a highly dynamic system that exhibits large inorganic carbon variability on subseasonal to interannual timescales. This variability is poorly understood due to the lack of observations in this expansive and remote region. We developed a new model setup for the GOA that couples the three-dimensional Regional Oceanic Model System (ROMS) and the Carbon, Ocean Biogeochemistry and Lower Trophic (COBALT) ecosystem model. To improve our conceptual understanding of the system, we conducted a hindcast simulation from 1980 to 2013. The model was explicitly forced with temporally and spatially varying coastal freshwater discharges from a high-resolution terrestrial hydrological model, thereby affecting salinity, alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon, and nutrient concentrations. This represents a substantial improvement over previous GOA modeling attempts. Here, we evaluate the model on seasonal to interannual timescales using the best available inorganic carbon observations. The model was particularly successful in reproducing observed aragonite oversaturation and undersaturation of near-bottom water in May and September, respectively. The largest deficiency in the model is its inability to adequately simulate springtime surface inorganic carbon chemistry, as it overestimates surface dissolved inorganic carbon, which translates into an underestimation of the surface aragonite saturation state at this time. We also use the model to describe the seasonal cycle and drivers of inorganic carbon parameters along the Seward Line transect in under-sampled months. Model output suggests that the majority of the near-bottom water along the Seward Line is seasonally undersaturated with respect to aragonite between June and January, as a result of upwelling and remineralization. Such an extensive period of reoccurring aragonite undersaturation may be harmful to ocean acidification-sensitive organisms. Furthermore, the influence of freshwater not only decreases the aragonite saturation state in coastal surface waters in summer and fall, but it simultaneously decreases the surface partial pressure of carbon dioxide (inline-formulapCO2), thereby decoupling the aragonite saturation state from inline-formulapCO2. The full seasonal cycle and geographic extent of the GOA region is under-sampled, and our model results give new and important insights for months of the year and areas that lack in situ inorganic carbon observations.

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Hauri, Claudine / Schultz, Cristina / Hedstrom, Katherine / et al: A regional hindcast model simulating ecosystem dynamics, inorganic carbon chemistry, and ocean acidification in the Gulf of Alaska. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Claudine Hauri et al.

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