Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/bg-2017-118
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).
Primary production sensitivity to phytoplankton light attenuation parameter increases with transient forcing
Karin F. Kvale1 and Katrin J. Meissner2,3 1GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
2Climate Change Research Centre, Level 4 Mathews Building, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia
3ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science
Abstract. Treatment of the underwater light field in ocean biogeochemical models has been attracting increasing interest, with some models moving towards more complex parameterisations. A simple test of the sensitivity of a typical, highly simplified parameterisation, to adjustment of the phytoplankton light attenuation parameter using both steady-state and future projections reveals a range of values to which the model primary production is relatively insensitive in steady-state but to which it becomes increasingly sensitive under climate forcing. Parameter value choice can determine the magnitude and sign of global net primary production trends in a high CO2 forcing scenario. Ocean oxygen is particularly sensitive to parameter choice. With climate forcing, two simulations establish a strong biogeochemical feedback between the Southern Ocean and low latitude Pacific that highlights the potential for regional teleconnection and serves as a reminder that shifts in fundamental properties (e.g., light attenuation by phytoplankton) over deep time have the potential to alter biogeochemical climate.

Citation: Kvale, K. F. and Meissner, K. J.: Primary production sensitivity to phytoplankton light attenuation parameter increases with transient forcing, Biogeosciences Discuss., doi:10.5194/bg-2017-118, in review, 2017.
Karin F. Kvale and Katrin J. Meissner
Karin F. Kvale and Katrin J. Meissner
Karin F. Kvale and Katrin J. Meissner

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Short summary
Climate models containing ocean biogeochemistry contain a lot of poorly-constrained parameters, which makes model tuning difficult. For more than 20 years modellers have generally assumed phytoplankton light attenuation parameter value choice has an insignificant affect on model ocean primary production, thus it is often overlooked for tuning. We demonstrate an empirical range of light attenuation parameter values can affect primary production, with increasing sensitivity under climate change.
Climate models containing ocean biogeochemistry contain a lot of poorly-constrained parameters,...
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