Ocean Biogeochemistry in GFDL’s Earth System Model 4.1 and its Response to Increasing Atmospheric CO2

Stock, Charles A.; Dunne, John P.; Fan, Songmiao; Ginoux, Paul; John, Jasmin G.; Krasting, John P.; Laufkötter, Charlotte; Paulot, Fabian; Zadeh, Niki (2020). Ocean Biogeochemistry in GFDL’s Earth System Model 4.1 and its Response to Increasing Atmospheric CO2. Journal of advances in modeling earth systems : JAMES, 12(10) American Geophysical Union 10.1029/2019MS002043

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This contribution describes the ocean biogeochemical component of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's Earth System Model 4.1 (GFDL‐ESM4.1), assesses GFDL‐ESM4.1's capacity to capture observed ocean biogeochemical patterns, and documents its response to increasing atmospheric CO2. Notable differences relative to the previous generation ofGFDL ESM's include enhanced resolution of plankton food web dynamics, refined particle remineralization, and a larger number of exchanges of nutrients across Earth system components. During model spin‐up, the carbon drift rapidly fell below the 10 Pg C per century equilibration criterion established by the Coupled Climate‐Carbon Cycle Model Intercomparison Project (C4MIP). Simulations robustly captured large‐scale observed nutrient distributions, plankton dynamics, and characteristics of the biological pump. The model overexpressed phosphate limitation and open ocean hypoxia in some areas but still yielded realistic surface and deep carbon system properties, including cumulative carbon uptake since preindustrial times and over the last decades that is consistent with observation‐based estimates. The model's response to the direct and radiative effects of a 200% atmospheric CO2 increase from preindustrial conditions (i.e., years 101–120 of a 1% CO2 yr−1 simulation) included (a) a weakened, shoaling organic carbon pump leading to a 38% reduction in the sinking flux at 2,000 m; (b) a two‐thirds reduction in the calcium carbonate pump that nonetheless generated only weak calcite compensation on century time‐scales; and, in contrast to previous GFDL ESMs, (c) a moderate reduction in global net primary production that was amplified at higher trophic levels. We conclude with a discussion of model limitations and priority developments.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics

UniBE Contributor:

Laufkötter, Charlotte


500 Science > 530 Physics




American Geophysical Union




Charlotte Laufkötter

Date Deposited:

19 Mar 2021 11:57

Last Modified:

19 Mar 2021 11:57

Publisher DOI:






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