Svetlana N. Losa, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, Martin Losch, Julia Oelker, Mariana A. Soppa, Scarlett Trimborn, Hongyan Xi, and Astrid Bracher (2019), On modeling the Southern Ocean Phytoplankton Functional TypesBiogeosciences Discussions, doi: 10.5194/bg-2019-289


This study highlights recent advances and challenges of applying coupled physical-biogeochemical modeling for investigating the distribution of the key phytoplankton groups in the Southern Ocean, an area of strong interest for understanding biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem functioning under present climate change. Our simulations of the phenology of various Phytoplankton Functional Types (PFTs) are based on a version of the Darwin biogeochemical model coupled to the 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) general circulation model (Darwin-MITgcm). The ecological module version was adapted for the Southern Ocean by: 1) improving coccolithophores abundance relative to the original model by introducing a high affinity for nutrients and an ability to escape grazing control for coccolithophores; 2) including two different (small vs. large) size classes of diatoms; and 3) accounting for two distinct life stages for Phaeocystis (single cell vs. colonial). This new model configuration describes best the competition and co-occurrence of the PFTs in the Southern Ocean. It improves 10 significantly relative to an older version the agreement of the simulated abundance of the coccolithophores and diatoms with in situ scanning electron microscopy observations in the Subantarctic Zone as well as with in situ diatoms and haptophytes (including coccolithophores and Phaeocystis) chlorophyll a concentrations within the Patagonian Shelf and along the Western Antarctic Peninsula obtained by diagnostic pigment analysis. The modeled Southern Ocean PFT dominance also agrees well with satellite-based PFT information.