OCN 481/681: Introduction to Ocean Ecosystem Modeling

Dr. Brian Powell

Spring 2017

Class: Tues/Thurs 12:00-1:15pm, MSB 307

Optional Lab/Office Hours: Friday 10:30-11:20am, MSB 307


The goal of this course is to provide an in-depth introduction to numerically representing an oceanic ecosystem with coupled geochemistry, biology, and physics. This class will consist of lectures and class discussions of methods and results. This is a hands-on class. Most exercises will build upon the previous leading to each student having constructed a coupled ecosystem ocean model of the tropical Pacific ocean. This model will be used to simulate the nutrient cycling, biological production, and oceanic conditions of the equatorial Pacific. The primary tool used in this class will be Python, but any other programming language (Matlab, FORTRAN, C, R, etc.) is welcome. No prior programming experience is required, and simple Python tutorials will be provided covering all necessary aspects. Python is open-source and freely available without restriction.

The concepts that will be covered include: Python Notebook programming, introduction to basic numerical methods (numerical integration, finite-differences, etc.), concepts of phyto- and zoo-plankton interaction, spring bloom and physical forcing, derivation and analysis of NPZ biological equations, derivation and analysis of shallow-water ocean equations, wind-forcing of the ocean, physical forcing of biological production during ENSO, and discussions on how to interpret and analyze model output data.

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

In this course, we will develop a wind-forced physical model of the tropical Pacific that is capable of modeling the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). We will couple a Nutrients-Phytoplankton-Zooplankton (NPZ) within the Pacific model and examine the system as a whole.

In this video, we can see the depth and flow of the surface layer during an ENSO cycle.