Towards a multi-platform assimilative system for North Sea biogeochemistry

Jozef Skákala, David Ford, Jorn Bruggeman, Tom Hull, Jan Kaiser, Robert R. King, Benjamin Loveday, Matthew R. Palmer, Tim Smyth, Charlotte A. J. Williams, Stefano Ciavatta

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Oceanography has entered an era of new observing platforms, such as biogeochemical-Argo floats and gliders, some of which will provide three-dimensional maps of essential ecosystem variables on the North-West European (NWE) Shelf. In a foreseeable future operational centers will use multi-platform assimilation to integrate those valuable data into ecosystem reanalysis and forecast systems. Here we address some important questions related to glider biogeochemical data assimilation (DA) and introduce multi-platform DA in a preoperational model of the NWE Shelf sea ecosystem. We test the impact of the different multi-platform system components (glider vs. satellite, physical vs. biogeochemical) on the simulated biogeochemical variables. To characterize the model performance, we focus on the period around the phytoplankton spring bloom, since the bloom is a major ecosystem driver on the NWE Shelf. We found that the timing and magnitude of the phytoplankton bloom is insensitive to the physical DA, which is explained in the study. To correct the simulated phytoplankton bloom one needs to assimilate chlorophyll observations from glider or satellite Ocean Color (OC) into the model. Although outperformed by the glider chlorophyll assimilation, we show that OC assimilation has mostly desirable impact on the sub-surface chlorophyll. Since the OC assimilation updates chlorophyll only in the mixed layer, the impact on the sub-surface chlorophyll is the result of the model dynamical response to the assimilation. We demonstrate that the multi-platform assimilation combines the advantages of its components and always performs comparably to its best performing component.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JC016649
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
Early online date20 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Shelf seas
  • glider observations
  • marine ecosystems
  • multi-platform data assimilation

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