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MEDUSA: a new intermediate complexity plankton ecosystem model for the global domain

Author(s): A. Yool | E. E. Popova | T. R. Anderson

Journal: Geoscientific Model Development Discussions
ISSN 1991-9611

Volume: 3;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 1939;
Date: 2010;
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The ongoing, anthropogenically-driven changes to the global ocean are expected to have significant consequences for plankton ecosystems in the future. Because of the role that plankton play in the ocean's "biological pump", changes in abundance, distribution and productivity will likely have additional consequences for the wider carbon cycle. Just as in the terrestrial biosphere, marine ecosystems exhibit marked diversity in species and functional types of organisms. Predicting potential change in plankton ecosystems therefore requires the use of models that are suited to this diversity, but whose parameterisation also permits robust and realistic functional behaviour. In the past decade, advances in model sophistication have attempted to address diversity, but have been criticised for doing so inaccurately or ahead of a requisite understanding of underlying processes. Here we introduce MEDUSA (Model of Ecosystem Dynamics, nutrient Utilisation, Sequestration and Acidification), a new "intermediate complexity" plankton ecosystem model that expands on traditional nutrient-phytoplankton-zooplankton-detritus (NPZD) models, and remains amenable to global-scale evaluation. MEDUSA includes the biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen, silicon and iron, broadly structured into "small" and "large" plankton size classes, of which the "large" phytoplankton class is representative of a key phytoplankton group, the diatoms. A full description of MEDUSA's state variables, differential equations, functional forms and parameter values is included, with particular attention focused on the submodel describing the export of organic carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. MEDUSA is used here in a multi-decadal hindcast simulation, and its biogeochemical performance evaluated at the global scale.
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