Articles | Volume 21, issue 1
31 Jan 2003
 | 31 Jan 2003

Surface heat fluxes and ecosystem function in the Cretan Sea (eastern Mediterranean): a modelling study

J. R. Siddorn and J. I. Allen

Abstract. As a component of the Mediterranean Forecast System Pilot Project, a data buoy was deployed in the Cretan Sea. A 1-D ecosystem model of the site has been used to investigate the role of surface heat fluxes in determining modelled ecosystem behaviour. The method of calculation of these fluxes, the quality of the data used, and the temporal resolution of the data all had an impact upon the modelled ecosystem function. The effects of the changes in heat flux formulation were substantial, with both annually averaged properties of the system and the seasonal evolution of the biology being affected. It was also found that the ecosystem model was extremely sensitive to the accuracy of the meteorological forcing data used, with substantial changes in biology found when offsets in the forcing data were imposed. The frequency of forcing data was relatively unimportant in determining the biological function, although lower frequency forcing damped high frequency variability in the biology. During periods of mixing the biology showed an amplified response to changes in physical dynamics, but during periods of stratification the variations in the physics were found to be less important. Zooplankton showed more sensitivity to physical variability than either phytoplankton or bacteria. The consequences for ecosystem modelling are discussed.

Key words. Oceanography: physical (air-sea interactions; turbulence, diffusion, and mixing processes) – Oceanography: biological and chemical (plankton)