Development of BFMCOUPLER (v1.0), the coupling scheme that links the MITgcm and BFM models for ocean biogeochemistry simulations
Abstract. In this paper, we present a coupling scheme between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology general circulation model (MITgcm) and the Biogeochemical Flux Model (BFM). The MITgcm and BFM are widely used models for geophysical fluid dynamics and for ocean biogeochemistry, respectively, and they benefit from the support of active developers and user communities. The MITgcm is a state-of-the-art general circulation model for simulating the ocean and the atmosphere. This model is fully 3-D (including the non-hydrostatic term of momentum equations) and is characterized by a finite-volume discretization and a number of additional features enabling simulations from global (O(107) m) to local scales (O(100) m). The BFM is a biogeochemical model based on plankton functional type formulations, and it simulates the cycling of a number of constituents and nutrients within marine ecosystems. The online coupling presented in this paper is based on an open-source code, and it is characterized by a modular structure. Modularity preserves the potentials of the two models, allowing for a sustainable programming effort to handle future evolutions in the two codes. We also tested specific model options and integration schemes to balance the numerical accuracy against the computational performance. The coupling scheme allows us to solve several processes that are not considered by each of the models alone, including light attenuation parameterizations along the water column, phytoplankton and detritus sinking, external inputs, and surface and bottom fluxes. Moreover, this new coupled hydrodynamic–biogeochemical model has been configured and tested against an idealized problem (a cyclonic gyre in a mid-latitude closed basin) and a realistic case study (central part of the Mediterranean Sea in 2006–2012). The numerical results consistently reproduce the interplay of hydrodynamics and biogeochemistry in both the idealized case and Mediterranean Sea experiments. The former reproduces correctly the alternation of surface bloom and deep chlorophyll maximum dynamics driven by the seasonal cycle of winter vertical mixing and summer stratification; the latter simulates the main basin-wide and mesoscale spatial features of the physical and biochemical variables in the Mediterranean, thus demonstrating the applicability of the new coupled model to a wide range of ocean biogeochemistry problems.