Marine Biogeochemistry

Ocean ecosystems, biogeochemistry, sediments, acoustics and optics are all developed, maintained and evaluated as part of the Met Office operational oceanographic modelling capability.

Our objectives are to develop, implement, validate, maintain and improve the Met Office's short range marine ecosystem and sediment modelling systems at global and regional scales, including coastal shallow waters. Key activities in this area include the development, implementation, validation, maintenance and improvement of the  modelling systems, comprising an in-house sediment model as well as open ocean (HadOCC) and shelf seas (ERSEM) ecosystem models.

The research involves applying carbon-cycle and biogeochemical models, fully coupled to physical models, for both the open ocean and north-west European shelf waters. For the shelf-seas around the UK we apply the MRCS hydrodynamic model configuration, coupled to ERSEM. MRCS is based on the POLCOMS model developed at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, while ERSEM is a complex ecosystem model under development at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Incorporated into the shelf seas model is a 3-dimensional on-line coupled sediment model which has been developed at the Met Office. The sediment model provides analyses and forecasts of 2 differently sized sediment populations around the UK shelf sea region. The sediment transport mechanisms included in the model are: sea bed erosion, vertical mixing, advection and diffusion, aggregation and disaggregation, settling and deposition. The model is driven by turbulence parameters from the coupled hydrodynamic model and provides in-water light attenuation information to the ecosystem model.

Open ocean ecosystem forecasts are currently pre-operational, but will soon be included in the operational deep ocean modelling systems through coupling the HadOCC model with NEMO. Data assimilation techniques have been recently developed to assimilate ocean colour into the coupled NEMO-HadOCC model so as to improve the spatial and temporal distribution of biological activity by the model. The coupled model has been successfully used in the ESA GlobColour project where we assimilated level 2 products from individual sensors (MERIS and MODIS) as well as level 3 GlobColour merged products, with their associated error characteristics.

Key aims  

  • Assess the model's performance in both open ocean and shelf seas.
  • Improve model's skill in order to improve the accuracy of our products.
  • Transition the ERSEM model to the NEMO physical framework and the NEMO-HadOCC system to operational status.
  • Investigate the feasibility of a single ecosystem modelling framework for the shelf seas and the open ocean.

Current projects

  • MyOcean is a pan-European project which aims to produce a single point of service for all the European ocean forecasting products. The principal European ocean forecasting centres create a set of their products which are available via a single web portal; they can be downloaded or visualised using a sophisticated web-map visualisation system. Operational products from both physical-biogeochemical systems described above will be delivered within MyOcean and will comrise primary productivity, nutrients, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen and diffusive attenuation coefficient.
  • AlgaRisk is a partnership between the EA, PML and the Met Office that has developed a new tool to help warn bathers about algal blooms. The AlgaRisk project integrates satellite images and ocean ecosystem models to predict whether or not algal blooms will affect designated bathing waters. This capability enables the EA staff to better inform the public of bathing water quality, fulfilling the requirement set by the European Union's revised Bathing Waters Directive.

Last updated: 29 April 2013