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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2017-10-12
    Description: Ecosystem models often rely on heuristic descriptions of autotrophic growth that fail to reproduce various stationary and dynamic states of phytoplankton cellular composition observed in laboratory experiments. Here, we present the integration of an advanced phytoplankton growth model within a coupled three-dimensional physical–biogeochemical model and the application of the model system to the southern North Sea (SNS) defined on a relatively high resolution (∼1.5–4.5km) curvilinear grid. The autotrophic growth model, recently introduced by Wirtz and Kerimoglu (2016), is based on a set of novel concepts for the allocation of internal resources and operation of cellular metabolism. The coupled model system consists of the General Estuarine Transport Model (GETM) as the hydrodynamical driver, a lower-trophic-level model and a simple sediment diagenesis model. We force the model system with realistic atmospheric and riverine fluxes, background turbidity caused by suspended particulate matter (SPM) and open ocean boundary conditions. For a simulation for the period 2000–2010, we show that the model system satisfactorily reproduces the physical and biogeochemical states of the system within the German Bight characterized by steep salinity; nutrient and chlorophyll (Chl) gradients, as inferred from comparisons against observation data from long-term monitoring stations; sparse in situ measurements; continuous transects; and satellites. The model also displays skill in capturing the formation of thin chlorophyll layers at the pycnocline, which is frequently observed within the stratified regions during summer. A sensitivity analysis reveals that the vertical distributions of phytoplankton concentrations estimated by the model can be qualitatively sensitive to the description of the light climate and dependence of sinking rates on the internal nutrient reserves. A non-acclimative (fixed-physiology) version of the model predicted entirely different vertical profiles, suggesting that accounting for physiological flexibility might be relevant for a consistent representation of the vertical distribution of phytoplankton biomass. Our results point to significant variability in the cellular chlorophyll-to-carbon ratio (Chl:C) across seasons and the coastal to offshore transition. Up to 3-fold-higher Chl:C at the coastal areas in comparison to those at the offshore areas contribute to the steepness of the chlorophyll gradient. The model also predicts much higher phytoplankton concentrations at the coastal areas in comparison to its non-acclimative equivalent. Hence, findings of this study provide evidence for the relevance of physiological flexibility, here reflected by spatial and seasonal variations in Chl:C, for a realistic description of biogeochemical fluxes, particularly in the environments displaying strong resource gradients.
    Print ISSN: 1726-4170
    Electronic ISSN: 1726-4189
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Published by Copernicus on behalf of European Geosciences Union (EGU).
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2017-03-30
    Description: Ecosystem models often rely on heuristic descriptions of autotroph growth that fail to reproduce various stationary and dynamic states of phytoplankton cellular composition observed in laboratory experiments. Here, we present the integration of an advanced phytoplankton growth model within a coupled 3-dimensional physical-biogeochemical model, and the implementation of the model system to the Southern North Sea (SNS) defined on a relatively high resolution (~ 1.5–4.5 km) curvilinear grid. The autotrophic growth model, recently introduced by Wirtz and Kerimoglu (2016), is built up on a set of novel concepts for the allocation of internal resources and operation of cellular metabolism. The coupled model system consists of the general estuarine transport model (GETM) as the hydrodynamical driver, a lower trophic level model and a simple sediment diagenesis model. We force the model system with realistic atmospheric and riverine fluxes, background turbidity caused by suspended particulate matter and open ocean boundary conditions. For a simulation for the period 2000–2010, we show that the model system satisfactorily reproduces the physical and biogeochemical states of the system, as inferred from comparisons against data from long-term monitoring stations, sparse measurements, continuous transects, and remote sensing data. In particular, the model shows high skill both in coastal and off shore waters, and captures the steep gradients in nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations observed prevalently across the coastal transition zone. We show that the cellular chlorophyll to carbon ratio show significant seasonal and lateral variability, the latter amplifying the steepness of the transitional chlorophyll gradient, thus, pointing to the relevance of resolving the physiological acclimation processes for an accurate description of biogeochemical fluxes.
    Print ISSN: 1810-6277
    Electronic ISSN: 1810-6285
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Published by Copernicus on behalf of European Geosciences Union (EGU).
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2016-09-05
    Description: Marine coastal ecosystem functioning is crucially linked to the transport and fate of suspended particulate matter (SPM). Transport of SPM is controlled by, amongst other factors, sinking velocity ws. Since the ws of cohesive SPM aggregates varies significantly with size and composition of the mineral and organic origin, ws exhibits large spatial variability along gradients of turbulence, SPM concentration (SPMC) and SPM composition. In this study, we retrieved ws for the German Bight, North Sea, by combining measured vertical turbidity profiles with simulation results for turbulent eddy diffusivity. We analyzed ws with respect to modeled prevailing dissipation rates ϵ and found that mean ws were significantly enhanced around log10(ϵ (m2s−3)) ≈ −5.5. This ϵ region is typically found at water depths of approximately 15 to 20m along cross-shore transects. Across this zone, SPMC declines towards the offshore waters and a change in particle composition occurs. This characterizes a transition zone with potentially enhanced vertical fluxes. Our findings contribute to the conceptual understanding of nutrient cycling in the coastal region which is as follows. Previous studies identified an estuarine circulation. Its residual landward-oriented bottom currents are loaded with SPM, particularly within the transition zone. This retains and traps fine sediments and particulate-bound nutrients in coastal waters where organic components of SPM become remineralized. Residual surface currents transport dissolved nutrients offshore, where they are again consumed by phytoplankton. Algae excrete extracellular polymeric substances which are known to mediate mineral aggregation and thus sedimentation. This probably takes place particularly in the transition zone and completes the coastal nutrient cycle. The efficiency of the transition zone for retention is thus suggested as an important mechanism that underlies the often observed nutrient gradients towards the coast.
    Print ISSN: 1726-4170
    Electronic ISSN: 1726-4189
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Published by Copernicus on behalf of European Geosciences Union (EGU).
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2016-02-05
    Description: Marine coastal ecosystem functioning is crucially linked to the transport and fate of suspended particulate matter (SPM). Transport of SPM is, amongst others, controlled by sinking velocity ws. Since ws of cohesive SPM aggregates varies significantly with size and composition of mineral and organic origin, ws probably exhibits large spatial variability along gradients of turbulence, SPM concentration and SPM composition. In this study, we retrieved ws for the German Bight, North Sea, by combining measured vertical turbidity profiles with simulation results for turbulent eddy diffusivity. Analyzed with 5 respect to modeled prevailing energy dissipation rates &epsilon,, mean ws were significantly enhanced around log10(ε (m2s−3)) ≈ −5.5. This ε region is typically found at water depths of approximately 15 m to 20 m on a cross-shore transect. Across this zone, SPM concentration declines drastically towards the offshore and a change in particle composition occurs. This characterizes a transition zone with potentially enhanced vertical fluxes. Our findings contribute to the conceptual understanding of nutrient cycling in the coastal region which is as follows: Previous studies identified an estuarine circulation. Its residual landward-oriented bottom currents are likely loaded with SPM particularly within the transition zone. This retains and traps fine sediments and particulate-bound nutrients in coastal waters where organic components of SPM become re-mineralized. Residual surface currents transport dissolved nutrients towards the off-shore, where they are again consumed by phytoplankton. Algae excrete extracellular polymeric substances which are known to mediate mineral aggregation and thus sedimentation. This probably takes place particularly in the transition zone and completes the coastal nutrient cycle. The efficiency of the transition zone for retention is thus suggested as an important mechanism that underlies the often observed nutrient gradients towards the coast.
    Print ISSN: 1810-6277
    Electronic ISSN: 1810-6285
    Topics: Biology , Geosciences
    Published by Copernicus on behalf of European Geosciences Union (EGU).
    Location Call Number Expected Availability
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