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The emergence of ocean biogeochemical provinces: a quantitative assessment and a diagnostic for model evaluation
Vichi, M.; Allen, J.I.; Masina, S.; Hardman-Mountford, N.J. (2011). The emergence of ocean biogeochemical provinces: a quantitative assessment and a diagnostic for model evaluation. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 25(2): 17 pp.
In: Global Biogeochemical Cycles. American Geophysical Union: Washington, DC. ISSN 0886-6236, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Vichi, M.
  • Allen, J.I.
  • Masina, S.
  • Hardman-Mountford, N.J.

    The concept of ocean biogeochemical provinces is based on the observation that large ocean regions are characterized by coherent physical forcing and environmental conditions, which are eventually representative of macroscale ocean ecosystems. Biogeochemical models of the global ocean focus on simulating the coupling between prevalent physical conditions and the biogeochemical processes with the assumption that biological properties respond coherently to physics and therefore should produce such provinces as an emergent property. In this paper, we quantitatively assess the emergence of a reference set of predefined biogeochemical provinces in the available global data sets and propose a province-based approach to the evaluation of one of the most comprehensive models of ocean biogeochemistry. Multivariate statistical tools were applied to model and observation data, verifying the existence, distinctiveness and reliability of the predefined provinces and quantifying the correlation of model results with observations at the global scale. The analysis of similarity between provinces shows that they are statistically separable in data and model output and therefore can be used as reliable metrics. The analyses indicate that provinces can be more easily distinguished in terms of their environmental features rather than using chlorophyll concentration. The characterization of provinces by means of chlorophyll values shows a significant overlap in both the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) data and the model. It is likely this is related to the choice of province boundaries based on coarse-resolution mapped data, which are not necessarily the same as those derivable from high-resolution satellite data. We also demonstrated through cluster analysis that the long-term time series data collected at Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) stations are representative of environmental conditions of the respective province and can thus be used to evaluate model results extracted from that province. The method shows promise for helping to overcome problems with model verification due to under sampling of most ocean biogeochemical variables but also gives indications that unsupervised clustering may be required when more spatially resolved data and models are available.

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