Articles | Volume 8, issue 9
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 2929–2957, 2015

Special issue: The Transport Matrix Method (TMM) for ocean biogeochemical...

Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 2929–2957, 2015

Development and technical paper 23 Sep 2015

Development and technical paper | 23 Sep 2015

MOPS-1.0: towards a model for the regulation of the global oceanic nitrogen budget by marine biogeochemical processes

I. Kriest and A. Oschlies I. Kriest and A. Oschlies
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Global models of the oceanic nitrogen cycle are subject to many uncertainties regarding the representation of the relevant biogeochemical processes and of the feedbacks between nitrogen sources and sinks that determine space- and timescales on which the global nitrogen budget is regulated. We investigate these aspects using a global model of ocean biogeochemistry that explicitly considers phosphorus and nitrogen, including pelagic denitrification and nitrogen fixation as sink and source terms of fixed nitrogen, respectively. The model explores different parameterizations of organic matter sinking speed, oxidant affinity of oxic and suboxic remineralization, and regulation of nitrogen fixation by temperature and different stoichiometric ratios. Examination of the initial transient behavior of different model setups initialized from observed biogeochemical tracer distributions reveal changes in simulated nitrogen inventories and fluxes particularly during the first centuries. Millennial timescales have to be resolved in order to bring all biogeochemical and physical processes into a dynamically consistent steady state. Analysis of global properties suggests that not only particularly particle sinking speed but also the parameterization of denitrification determine the extent of oxygen minimum zones, global nitrogen fluxes, and hence the oceanic nitrogen inventory. However, the ways and directions in which different parameterizations of particle sinking, nitrogen fixation, and denitrification affect the global diagnostics are different suggesting that these may, in principle, be constrained independently from each other. Analysis of the model misfit with respect to observed biogeochemical tracer distributions and fluxes suggests a particle flux profile close to the one suggested by Martin et al. (1987). Simulated pelagic denitrification best agrees with the lower values between 59 and 84 Tg N yr−1 recently estimated by other authors.

Short summary
We use a global model of oceanic P, N, and O2 cycles to investigate consequences of uncertainties in description of organic matter sinking, remineralization, denitrification, and N2-Fixation. After all biogeochemical and physical processes have been spun-up into a dynamically consistent steady-state, particle sinking and oxidant affinities of aerobic and anaerobic remineralization determine the extent of oxygen minimum zones, global nitrogen fluxes, and the oceanic nitrogen inventory.