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ERSEM 2022 model version release: Plymouth Marine Laboratory share enhanced model for open use

14 November 2022

Scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory have released the latest open source version of ERSEM, the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model

The Marine Systems Modelling team have shared the updated version of the model, which is currently used both for regional applications around the world, from the Northwest European shelf to South East Asia, as well as at a global scale, to address pressing issues related to the current status and the future changes of the marine environment and its resources. 

What is an ‘Ecosystem Model’? 

An ecosystem model is an abstract - usually mathematical - representation of an ecological system, which is studied to gain understanding of the real system.  

Such models are a vital resource to predict the future direction of ecosystems, and identify the best approaches to ensure their sustainability, which continue to be threatened by pollution, overexploitation of resources and ongoing climate change. 

What is ‘ERSEM’? 

ERSEM - which was originally developed by a large European consortium, including Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) - addresses biogeochemical and ecological systems in many applications worldwide, engaging in a range of problem solving, predictive and impact studies. 

Originally created back in the early 1990s, ERSEM has since been a critical tool for many organisations across the globe to analyse, predict and advise on a range of climate-related issues. It has been continuously developed over this time to keep up with evolving understanding of marine systems and the demands to address the varying threats that the environment faces – from plastic pollution to ocean acidification, and to support the management of marine resources – from aquaculture to carbon capture and storage. It supports a host of projects, both at national and international scales. 

ERSEM is currently one of the most detailed lower trophic level models in use and its philosophy is to include parameterisations of all processes that may significantly influence ecosystem dynamics. 

About the new model release 

Dr Gennadi Lessin, Marine System Modeller at PML, said of the new release: 

“We’ve been busy working behind the scenes on the latest model release, improving performance and advancing ERSEM’s capabilities based on up-to-date process understanding to pave the way for more accurate and informative biogeochemical and ecological modelling predictions.” 

“The tool is free to use and open-access, and we’d like to remind the community that feedback on their usage experience can help to guide the direction for future ERSEM development and improve model capabilities. We are open for collaborations with individuals and organisations, which again, help us to continuously improve the model code and its usability in a rapidly increasing number of applications for the benefit of the environment and society.” 

How to access ERSEM 

The ERSEM code and documentation is open access and can be found on the links below: