In the European Iron Fertilization Experiment (EIFEX), the iron hypothesis was tested by an open ocean perturbation experiment. The success of EIFEX owes to the applied experimental strategy; namely to use the closed core of a mesoscale eddy for the iron injection. This strategy not only allowed tracking the phytoplankton bloom within the fertilized patch of mixed-layer water, but also allowed the export of biologically fixed carbon to the deep ocean to be quantified. In this present study, least-squares techniques are used to fit a regional numerical ocean circulation model with four open boundaries to temperature, salinity, and velocity observations collected during EIFEX. By adjusting the open boundary values of temperature, salinity and velocity, an optimized model is obtained that clearly improves the simulated eddy and its mixed layer compared to a first guess representation of the cyclonic eddy. A biogeochemical model, coupled to the optimized circulation model, simulates the evolution of variables such as chlorophyll a and particular organic carbon in close agreement with the observations. The estimated carbon export, however, is lower than the estimates obtained from observations without numerical modeling support. Tuning the sinking parameterization in the model increases the carbon export at the cost of unrealistically high sinking velocities. Repeating the model experiment without adding iron allows more insight into the effects of the iron fertilization. In the model this effect is about 40% lower than in previous estimates in the context of EIFEX. The likely causes for these discrepancies are potentially too high remineralization, inaccurate representation of the bloom-termination in the model, and ambiguity in budget computations and averaging. The discrepancies are discussed and improvements are suggested for the parameterization used in the biogeochemical model components.
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Observational Oceanography
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Climate Dynamics