Ecosystem Modelling - NCOF - The National Centre for Ocean Forecasting


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Ecosystem Modellingecosystem image

Click here for the sample daily updated MRCS model forecast


We are applying carbon-cycle and biogeochemical models for both the open ocean and UK waters. For the shelf-seas around the UK we use the MRCS (Medium-Resolution Continental Shelf) coastal seas model, coupled to the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM). MRCS is based on the hydrodynamic POLCOMS model developed at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, while ERSEM is a complex ecosystem model under development at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

ERSEM is one of the most complex lower trophic-level marine ecosystem models currently in use, including:

  • one bacteria, four phytoplankton and three zooplankton functional groups,
  • a fully resolved diurnal cycle,
  • variable carbon to chlorophyll ratios and,
  • independent nutrient pools for carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous and silicate.

ERSEM outputs are aligned to OSPAR (Oslo-Paris) convention requirements, in support of the ecosystem-based approach to managing the marine environment which is being advocated by European governments.

Open ocean ecosystem forecasts are currently pre-operational, but will soon be included in the operational deep ocean modelling systems through the inclusion of the Hadley Centre Ocean Carbon Cycle (HadOCC) model in the Forecasting Ocean Assimilation Model (FOAM). HadOCC is a Nutrient, Phytoplankton, Zooplankton, Detritus (NPZD) ecosystem model with the addition of two components representing carbon in the ocean: dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity.

We have rated ecosystem modelling in terms of its science, validation against real-world measurements and present range of application. To view these ratings please link to the Operational Forecast Model Capability Tables.

For access to these products please contact

For further information or to give some feedback on these pages, please use the NCOF site Enquiry Form.


(Last Updated: 26-03-2009)