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Development of a Coupled Biogeochemical-Circulation Model of the British Columbia Coastal Ocean


British Columbia model domain and bathymetry (colour contours).

Oxygen levels are declining and acidification is increasing along the British Columbia (BC) coastline, possibly reflecting biogeochemical effects as the ocean responds to climate-related changes. This project aimed to better understand the interaction between physical and biogeochemical processes in the ocean to determine whether these changes are mainly the result of natural variability or in fact responses to climate change.

Results: Researchers developed the first 3D, high-resolution biogeochemical-circulation model of the entire BC coast. The model combines ocean circulation and biogeochemical models and includes phytoplankton, zooplankton, and detritus along with nitrogen, silicate, carbon, and oxygen cycles. Available observations of exisitng BC coast conditions were used to select the ecosystem parameters that the model could use to simulate current ocean conditions and evaluate the model's accuracy. Results have shown that variable conditions outside the BC coastal area have a significant impact on the output of the simulations. As a result, researchers are analyzing temperature, salinity, nutrients, and oxygen data and using these observations to set the conditions of the model. The biogeochemical model was also used with a regional climate model to simulate future conditions on the BC coast based on predicted climate scenarios.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Angelica Peña
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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