Seamless Integration of the Coastal Ocean in Global Marine Carbon Cycle Modeling


We present the first global ocean-biogeochemistry model that uses a telescoping high resolution for an improved representation of coastal carbon dynamics: ICON-Coast. Based on the unstructured triangular grid topology of the model, we globally apply a grid refinement in the land-ocean transition zone to better resolve the complex circulation of shallow shelves and marginal seas as well as ocean-shelf exchange. Moreover, we incorporate tidal currents including bottom drag effects, and extend the parameterizations of the model's biogeochemistry component to account explicitly for key shelf-specific carbon transformation processes. These comprise sediment resuspension, temperature-dependent remineralization in the water column and sediment, riverine matter fluxes from land including terrestrial organic carbon, and variable sinking speed of aggregated particulate matter. The combination of regional grid refinement and enhanced process representation enables for the first time a seamless incorporation of the global coastal ocean in model-based Earth system research. In particular, ICON-Coast encompasses all coastal areas around the globe within a single, consistent ocean-biogeochemistry model, thus naturally accounting for two-way coupling of ocean-shelf feedback mechanisms at the global scale. The high quality of the model results as well as the efficiency in computational cost and storage requirements proves this strategy a pioneering approach for global high-resolution modeling. We conclude that ICON-Coast represents a new tool to deepen our mechanistic understanding of the role of the land-ocean transition zone in the global carbon cycle, and to narrow related uncertainties in global future projections.
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