Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research ESRIG - Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen News

Article in Geosciences: Validation of Stratification-Driven Phytoplankton Biomass and Nutrient Concentrations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean as Simulated by EC-Earth | Ocean Ecosystems

21 October 2019

Authors: Nomikos Skyllas, Richard Bintanja, Anita G. J. Buma, Corina P. D. Brussaard, Matthias Gröger, Jenny Hieronymus and Willem H. van de Poll

Geosciences 2019, 9(10), 450;


We validated simulations of the Earth system model (ESM) EC-Earth-NEMO of present-day temperature, salinity, nutrient, and chlorophyll a profiles with in situ observations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean (29–63º N). Simulations with standard parametrization (run 1) and improved parametrization of vertical mixing (run 2) were compared. Run 1 showed shallower mixed layer depths (MLDs) in spring as compared to observations owing to lower salinities in the upper 200 m of the subpolar North Atlantic (>55º N). This coincided with a mismatch with observed timing and magnitude of the phytoplankton spring bloom. In contrast, the model performed well south of 55º N. Run 2 showed improved springtime MLD, phytoplankton dynamics, and nutrient distributions in the subpolar North Atlantic.

Our study underlines the sensitivity of subpolar North Atlantic phytoplankton blooms to surface freshening, suggesting that future fresh-water inflow from Arctic and Greenland Ice sheet melting could significantly affect phytoplankton productivity. These findings contribute to the generic validation of the EC-Earth ESM and underline the need for rigorous validation of physics-biology links, in particular the sub polar North Atlantic where complex seasonal stratification/vertical mixing processes govern upper ocean phytoplankton productivity.

Keywords: North Atlantic; Earth system models; EC-Earth; NEMO; PISCES; carbon cycle; phytoplankton; Stratiphyt; model validation; stratification; nutrients; chlorophyll a; mixed layer depth.

More information

Read full article at MDPI.

Last modified:19 July 2022 4.29 p.m.

More news

  • 13 October 2023

    Moniek Tromp appointed Captain of Science of the Top Sector Chemistry

    Prof. Moniek Tromp has been appointed Captain of Science of the Chemistry Top Sector by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. As from 1 July 2023, she succeeded Prof. Bert Weckhuysen from Utrecht University.

  • 12 September 2023

    Art in times of AI

    Leonardo Arriagada Beltran conducted his PhD research on the interface of computer-generated art and the constantly evolving field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He will defend his Phd thesis on 21 September. His research offers valuable insights...

  • 28 August 2023

    Harish Vedantham and Casper van der Kooi nominated for 'Wetenschapstalent 2023'

    Harish Vedantham and Casper van der Kooi have been nominated by New Scientist for Wetenschapstalent 2023 (Science Talent 2023). This election is meant to give young scientists and their research a stage.