First phase wraps up for West Coast acidification model development

Posted February 3, 2017

West Coast researchers working to develop a computer model that predicts how the region’s coastal waters will be affected by ocean acidification and hypoxia have successfully completed the first phase of model development.

The first phase, completed in fall 2016, involved conducting a preliminary analysis to confirm the model is accurately capturing large-scale forcing at the scale of the Pacific Ocean basin. This preliminary validation step gives modelers confidence that when they downscale the model to a resolution of 1 square kilometer, they are accurately capturing key characteristics of dynamic oceanic forces, including volume and concentration of nutrients, pH and oxygen levels, and upwelling events that pull deeper waters to the surface.

The modeling project is a three-year initiative to help West Coast managers understand which coastal marine habitats are most vulnerable to ocean acidification and to what extent local, land-based sources of nutrients are exacerbating acidification conditions. The modeling work involves coupling West Coast physical and biogeochemical ocean models together to understand the relative contributions of global carbon dioxide emissions, natural upwelling processes, and nutrients introduced via wastewater effluent, stormwater runoff and atmospheric deposition.

SCCWRP and its partners at UCLA and the University of Washington are developing a downscaled South Coast model that spans San Francisco to Baja California and has a resolution of 1 square kilometer. The large-scale Pacific basin model serves to establish boundary conditions for the downscaled model.

The project team will present the results of this modeling work at a stakeholder advisory committee meeting in April. The committee, which includes SCCWRP member agencies, will help define the nutrient management scenarios that will be run through the South Coast model.

More news related to: Climate Change, Eutrophication, Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia