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logo Modeling the Salish Sea


Modeling the Salish Sea planktonic ecosystem

We are currently developing a planktonic ecosystem model coupled to the physical simulation, guided by a rich archive of biological observations in Puget Sound (see Links). This model includes nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, detritus, and oxygen, allowing us to link physical processes in the Salish Sea to:

  1. primary production,
  2. food availability to higher trophic levels (like fish),
  3. water quality and hypoxia.

Through collaboration with the UW Climate Impacts Group, we are examining how these biological processes will change as the global climate changes, mediated by local processes in the coastal ocean, atmosphere, and watershed.

The ecosystem model builds on recent work on the Washington-Oregon coast by Banas, MacCready, and their collaborators in the NSF RISE program. This page gives more information on the construction and validation of that model; a 2009 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research documenting the coastal model is here.


mbasin This figure compares chlorophyll (i.e., phytoplankton biomass) along the main axis of Main Basin from the Jun 2006 PRISM cruise (top) with results from a preliminary version of the MoSSea ecosystem model (bottom). The model reproduces the basic scales of near-surface phytoplankton bloom along the interior of Main Basin, as well as the way these phytoplankton are mixed down throughout the water column near the landward and seaward sills (Tacoma Narrows and Admiralty Inlet).

last updated August 11, 2010