Simulation Notes Europe, Volume 22(3-4), December 2012

Predictions of Carbon Fixation during a Bloom of Emiliania huxleyi as a Function of the Regulating Inorganic Species

Simulation Notes Europe SNE 22(3-4), 2012, 129-134
DOI: 10.11128/


Large scale precipitation of calcium carbonate in the oceans by coccolithophorids is a phenomenon that plays an important role in carbon sequestration. However, there is a controversy on the effect of an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration on both calcification and photosynthesis of coccolithophorids. Indeed recent experiments, performed in conditions of nitrogen limitation, revealed that the associated fluxes may be slowed down, while other authors claim the reverse response. We have designed models to account for various scenarii of calcification and photosynthesis regulation in chemostat cultures of Emiliania huxleyi, based on different hypotheses of regulation mechanism. These models, which are kept at a general and generic level, consider that either carbon dioxide, bicarbonate, carbonate or pH is the regulating factor.  These models are calibrated to predict the same carbon fluxes in nowadays pCO2, but they turn out to respond differently to an increase of CO2 concentration. Thus, we simulated a bloom of Emiliania huxleyi using the four considered regulation scenarii. For high biomass concentration, the coccolithophorids can significantly affect the inorganic carbon and the pH in their environment, thus leading to a feedback in their growth rate which is, depending on the model, positive or negative. It results that the prediction of the carbon fixed during the bloom varies by a factor 2, depending on the assumed regulating mechanism hypothesized for growth and calcification.