Impact of the Physical Model on Ecosystem Response

There are many different types of physical model formulations that are currently being employed in coupled physical-ecosystem model studies and there are some significant differences among them (see Hydrodynamic Models). These include differences in turbulence closure, both horizontal and vertical grid structures, and the extent to which the models represent shallow versus deep-water circulations. In coupled models, differences

Plymouth marine laboratory ERSEM model schematic

Figure 4 Schematic representation of the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM)-A complex marine ecosystem model that includes both pelagic and benthic components. Also shown are different space dimension configurations and forcing. Reprinted from http://www.pml.ac.uk/Default.aspx?RecordId=5943.

Plymouth marine laboratory ERSEM model schematic

Figure 4 Schematic representation of the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM)-A complex marine ecosystem model that includes both pelagic and benthic components. Also shown are different space dimension configurations and forcing. Reprinted from http://www.pml.ac.uk/Default.aspx?RecordId=5943.

between modeled and observed ecosystem fields can arise as the result of problems associated with either the ecosystem model or the physical circulation model that is being used to force it, but it is often difficult to discern which of these is the source of the problem. Moreover, incorrect representation of physical processes can result in incorrect parametrization of the ecosystem model, that is, biological parameters may be improperly adjusted to compensate for errors in the physics. The physical context imposes first-order constraints upon ecosystem model response. As a result, different physical models can give rise to very different solutions from the same ecosystem model, even when the physical models are forced identically. Ecosystem models are particularly sensitive to physical processes that control vertical exchange of nutrients and particulate matter, for example, mixing depth variability and/or diapycnal exchange. This problem points to the need for more research focusing on how different physical model formulations influence ecosystem model solutions.

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