Tool name * ERSEM

ERSEM (European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model) is a generic model that describes the pelagic and benthic ecosystems and the coupling between them. (from: ERSEM (the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model) is a mature plankton functional type model that was initially developed by a framework 3 project1. It is related to NPZD type models but includes several refinements necessary to correctly represent the key processes of temperate shelf ecosystems; the main ones being some plankton community complexity, the microbial loop, variable nutrient stoichiometry, variable carbon : chlorophyll ratios and a comprehensive description of benthic biochemical and ecological processes2,3,4. Figure 1 illustrates the trophic structure of the model whose top closure is provided by a relatively simple mesozooplankton description. The units of currency of ERSEM are Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Silicon & Oxygen. ERSEM may be coupled to a range of hydrodynamic models in 1D (GOTM)5 or 3D (POLCOMS or NEMO)6 which provide information on T&S, mixing and circulation or run alone in ‘aquarium’ mode. Figure 2 illustrates the Atlantic Margin Model domain, the typical 3D domain currently used The resolution is ~7km with 32 sigma layers. Much effort has been applied to the evaluation of this model system7,8,9. ERSEM, or its close relation the Biogeochemical Flux Model (BFM), have been applied to other systems including tropical upwelling and oligotrophic situations2 and globally10 with some success. ERSEM has recently been extended to include the carbonate system giving it a predictive capability for future acidification states; impacts on ecosystem processes are being coupled in, as information becomes available11. (from

Category All, Data, Numerical Model, Spatial Planning
What step(s) in analysis framework 2a
What step(s) in Governance framework

Not available

Data Quality Required


Modification Required

No, but needs links to a hydrodynamic model.Options include 1D hydrodynamic model: GOTM or3D: POLCOMS or NEMO.

Expertise Required


Spatial and Temporal

NW Atlantic Shelf, North Sea and others (around Europe)


Not available

License cost issues


Literature: References & Manuals *

  1. Baretta et al, 1995. Neth J Sea Research 33; and 1997, J Sea Research 38 (3-4) (ERSEM special issues).
  2. Blackford et al, 2004. J Mar Sys, 52, 191-215. 3. Ebenhoh et al, 1995. Neth J Sea Research 33, 423-452.
  3. Ruardij et al, 1995. Neth J Sea Research 33, 453-483.
  4. Allen et al, 2004. J Sea Research, 52, 1-20.
  5. Allen et al, 2001. Sarsia 86, 423-440.
  6. Holt et al, 2005, J Mar Sys, 57, 167-188.
  7. Lewis et al, 2006, J Mar Sys, 2006, 209-224.
  8. Allen et al, J Mar Sys, 68, 381-404.
  9. Vichi et al, 2007, J Mar Sys, 64, 89-109 and 110-134.
  10. Blackford et al 2007. J Mar Sys. 64, 229-242.