A high-resolution physical-biogeochemical model for marine resource applications in the northwest Atlantic (MOM6-COBALT-NWA12 v1.0)

Andrew C. Ross, Charles A. Stock, Alistair Adcroft, Enrique Curchitser, Robert Hallberg, Matthew J. Harrison, Katherine Hedstrom, Niki Zadeh, Michael Alexander, Wenhao Chen, Elizabeth J. Drenkard, Hubert Du Pontavice, Raphael Dussin, Fabian Gomez, Jasmin G. John, Dujuan Kang, Diane Lavoie, Laure Resplandy, Alizée Roobaert, Vincent SabaSang Ik Shin, Samantha Siedlecki, James Simkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the development and evaluation of MOM6-COBALT-NWA12 version 1.0, a 1/12 model of ocean dynamics and biogeochemistry in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. This model is built using the new regional capabilities in the MOM6 ocean model and is coupled with the Carbon, Ocean Biogeochemistry and Lower Trophics (COBALT) biogeochemical model and Sea Ice Simulator version-2 (SIS2) sea ice model. Our goal was to develop a model to provide information to support living-marine-resource applications across management time horizons from seasons to decades. To do this, we struck a balance between a broad, coastwide domain to simulate basin-scale variability and capture cross-boundary issues expected under climate change; a high enough spatial resolution to accurately simulate features like the Gulf Stream separation and advection of water masses through finer-scale coastal features; and the computational economy required to run the long simulations of multiple ensemble members that are needed to quantify prediction uncertainties and produce actionable information. We assess whether MOM6-COBALT-NWA12 is capable of supporting the intended applications by evaluating the model with three categories of metrics: basin-wide indicators of the model's performance, indicators of coastal ecosystem variability and the regional ocean features that drive it, and model run times and computational efficiency. Overall, both the basin-wide and the regional ecosystem-relevant indicators are simulated well by the model. Where notable model biases and errors are present in both types of indicator, they are mainly consistent with the challenges of accurately simulating the Gulf Stream separation, path, and variability: for example, the coastal ocean and shelf north of Cape Hatteras are too warm and salty and have minor biogeochemical biases. During model development, we identified a few model parameters that exerted a notable influence on the model solution, including the horizontal viscosity, mixed-layer restratification, and tidal self-Attraction and loading, which we discuss briefly. The computational performance of the model is adequate to support running numerous long simulations, even with the inclusion of coupled biogeochemistry with 40 additional tracers. Overall, these results show that this first version of a regional MOM6 model for the northwest Atlantic Ocean is capable of efficiently and accurately simulating historical basin-wide and regional mean conditions and variability, laying the groundwork for future studies to analyze this variability in detail, develop and improve parameterizations and model components to better capture local ocean features, and develop predictions and projections of future conditions to support living-marine-resource applications across timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6943-6985
Number of pages43
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 29 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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