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Publication . Preprint . 2011

Oceanic controls on the primary production of the northwest European continental shelf under recent past and potential future conditions

Jason Holt; Momme Butenschön; Sarah Wakelin; Yuri Artioli; Julian Icarus Allen;
Open Access
Published: 19 Aug 2011
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH

Abstract. In this paper we clearly demonstrate that changes in oceanic nutrients are a first order factor in determining changes in the primary production of the northwest European continental shelf on time scales of 5–10 yr. We present a series of coupled hydrodynamic ecosystem modelling simulations, using the POLCOMS-ERSEM system. These are forced by both re-analysis data and a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model (OA-GCM) representative of possible conditions in 2080–2100 under an SRES A1B emissions scenario, along with the corresponding present day control. The OA-GCM forced simulations show a substantial reduction in surface nutrients in the open-ocean regions of the model domain, comparing future and present day time-slices. This arises from a large increase in oceanic stratification. Tracer transport experiments identify a substantial fraction of on-shelf water originates from the open-ocean region in the south of the domain, where this increase is largest, and indeed the on-shelf nutrient and primary production are reduced as this water is transported on shelf. This relationship is confirmed quantitatively by comparing changes in winter nitrate with total annual nitrate uptake. The reduction in primary production by the reduced nutrient transport is mitigated by on-shelf processes relating to temperature, stratification (length of growing season) and recycling. Regions less exposed to ocean-shelf exchange in this model (Celtic Sea, Irish Sea, English Channel, and southern North Sea) show a modest increase in primary production (of 5–10 %) compared with a decrease of 0–20 % in the outer shelf, central and northern North Sea. These findings are backed up by a boundary condition perturbation experiment and a simple mixing model.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Environmental science Primary (astronomy) Oceanography Continental shelf geography.geographical_feature_category geography

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