Understanding the dynamics of the carbonate system in shelf sea regions is necessary to evaluate the impact of ocean acidification (OA) in these societally important ecosystems. Complex hydrodynamic and ecosystem coupled models provide a method of capturing the significant heterogeneity of these areas. However rigorous validation is essential to properly assess the reliability of such models. The coupled model POLCOMS-ERSEM has been implemented in the North Western European shelf with a new parameterization for alkalinity explicitly accounting for riverine inputs and the influence of biological processes. The model has been validated in a like with like comparison with North Sea data from the CANOBA dataset. The model shows good to reasonable agreement for the principal variables, physical (temperature and salinity), biogeochemical (nutrients) and carbonate system (dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity), but simulation of the derived variables, pH and pCO2, are not yet fully satisfactory. This high uncertainty is attributed mostly to riverine forcing and primary production. This study suggests that the model is a useful tool to provide information on Ocean Acidification scenarios, but uncertainty on pH and pCO2 need to be reduced, particularly when impacts of OA on ecosystem functions are included in the model systems.
Artioli Y., Blackford J. C., Butenschön M., Holt J. T., Wakelin S. L., Thomas H., Borges A. V. & Allen I., in press. The carbonate system in the North Sea: sensitivity and model validation. Journal of Marine Systems. doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2012.04.006. Article (subscription required).