Modeling Global Ocean Biogeochemistry With Physical Data Assimilation: A Pragmatic Solution to the Equatorial Instability
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Modeling Global Ocean Biogeochemistry With Physical Data Assimilation: A Pragmatic Solution to the Equatorial Instability

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
  • Description:
    Reliable estimates of historical and current biogeochemistry are essential for understanding past ecosystem variability and predicting future changes. Efforts to translate improved physical ocean state estimates into improved biogeochemical estimates, however, are hindered by high biogeochemical sensitivity to transient momentum imbalances that arise during physical data assimilation. Most notably, the breakdown of geostrophic constraints on data assimilation in equatorial regions can lead to spurious upwelling, resulting in excessive equatorial productivity and biogeochemical fluxes. This hampers efforts to understand and predict the biogeochemical consequences of El Ni (n) over tildeo and La Ni (n) over tildea. We develop a strategy to robustly integrate an ocean biogeochemical model with an ensemble coupled-climate data assimilation system used for seasonal to decadal global climate prediction. Addressing spurious vertical velocities requires two steps. First, we find that tightening constraints on atmospheric data assimilation maintains a better equatorial wind stress and pressure gradient balance. This reduces spurious vertical velocities, but those remaining still produce substantial biogeochemical biases. The remainder is addressed by imposing stricter fidelity to model dynamics over data constraints near the equator. We determine an optimal choice of model-data weights that removed spurious biogeochemical signals while benefitting from off-equatorial constraints that still substantially improve equatorial physical ocean simulations. Compared to the unconstrained control run, the optimally constrained model reduces equatorial biogeochemical biases and markedly improves the equatorial subsurface nitrate concentrations and hypoxic area. The pragmatic approach described herein offers a means of advancing earth system prediction in parallel with continued data assimilation advances aimed at fully considering equatorial data constraints.
  • Source:
    Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10(3), 891-906.
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