History of Ocean Modeling

Models depicting the circulation and properties of the global oceans were developed in response to the maturation of the field of meteorological modeling. The first ocean models were constructed by Kirk Bryan and implemented

Table 1 Some first terrain-following ocean models

Model

Vertical coordinate

Horizontal grid

Reference

GFDL

Z

S

http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~lat/webpages/om/om_webpage.html

MOM

HIM

P

S

http://www.gfdl.gov/~rwh/HIM/HIM.html

HYCOM

Z, P, o

S

http://oceanmodeling.rsmas.miami.edu/hycom/

MITgcm

Z

S

http://mitgcm.org/pelican/home_page/frontpage.html

NCOM

Z

S

http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/csm/models/ocn-ncom/

OPA

Z, o

S

http://www.lodyc.jussieu.fr/opa/

POM

o

S

http://www.aos.princeton.edu/WWWPUBLIC/htdocs.pom/

QUODDY

o

U

http://www-nml.dartmouth.edu/circmods/gom.html

ADCIRC

2D

U

http://adcirc.org/index.htm

ELCIRC

Z, o

U

http://www.ccalmr.ogi.edu/CORIE/modeling/elcirc/

FVCOM

o

U

http://codfish.smast.umassd.edu/research_projects/FVCOM/index.html

Some frequently used models in coastal and open ocean applications. This is not an exhaustive list. Vertical coordinates: p, density; Z, fixed; a, terrain following. Horizontal grid: S, structured; U, unstructured.

by Michael Cox for use on early IBM and CDC computers. Development paralleled the evolution of computers, with models becoming increasingly sophisticated and having higher spatial resolution as computer methods and hardware became more powerful. The first global model followed quickly on the initial development in 1968. From this initial development came the Modular Ocean Model (MOM), the Parallel Ocean Program (POP), and many other implementations such as OCCAM, the Ocean Circulation and Climate Advanced Modelling Project.

Following closely on advances in atmospheric modeling, the first terrain-following (or sigma coordinate, see the section titled 'Vertical grids'; Table 1) ocean models were developed in the late 1970s. Models which came from this framework include SPEM (the s-coordinate primitive equation model, SCRUM, the s-coordinate Rutgers University Model). At the same time, Rainier Bleck was developing an isopycnal or layered ocean model system, MICOM (the Miami Isopycnal Coordinate Ocean Model). Several other isopycnal models have since been constructed, including HIM, the Hallberg Isopycnal Model, and HYCOM, a model which bridges the other coordinate systems through incorporation of an arbitrary vertical coordinate. Finally, finite element and spectral models that allow geometric flexibility in matching the complex shape of coastal systems have become popular for coastal applications in particular. In parallel with the expansion of the Internet, and the increasing power of computers, numerical ocean modeling has matured over the past 15 years to become a commonplace tool for studying oceanography and predicting climate.

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