Modelling the Northeast Atlantic circulation: implications for the spring invasion of shelf regions by Calanus finmarchicus

I. H. Harms, M. R. Heath, A. D. Bryant, J. O. Backhaus, D. A. Hainbucher, EU TASC (Funder)

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The appearance in spring of the copepod Calanus finmarchicus in continental shelf waters of the northeastern Atlantic has been hypothesized to be mainly attributable to invasion from across the continental slope rather than in situ overwintering. This paper describes the application of a hydrodynamic circulation model and a particle-tracking model to Northeast Atlantic waters in order to assess the influence of the flow field and ascent migration parameters on the spring invasion of C. finmarchicus. For hydrodynamic modelling, the Hamburg Shelf-Ocean Model (HAMSOM) was applied to the North Atlantic and Nordic Seas and forced with daily mean atmospheric data. Simulated flow fields from HAMSOM serve as forcing functions for a particle-tracking model of the same region. The robustness of the simulated shelf invasion in three target boxes of the Northeast Atlantic Shelf was assessed by means of a sensitivity analysis with respect to variations in four key migration parameters: overwintering depth, ascent rate, ascent timing, and depth during residence in upper layers. The invasion of the northern North Sea and Norwegian Shelf waters is more sensitive to ascent migration parameters than invasion of the Faroese Shelf. The main reason for enhanced sensitivity of the North Sea invasion is the time and space-dependent flow structure in the Faroe-Shetland Channel. Dense aggregations of overwintering C. finmarchicus are found in the Channel, but because of the complex flow field only a proportion of the overwintering stock has the capacity to reach the North Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1694-1707
Number of pages13
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2000


  • calanus finmarchicus
  • circulation modelling
  • northeast atlantic
  • particle tracking


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