WAVEWATCH: A Generic Ocean Wave Model
Entry ID: NOAA_WAVEWATCH
Abstract: WAVEWATCH III is a third generation wave model developed at NOAA/NCEP in the
spirit of the WAM model (WAMDIG 1988, Komen et al. 1994). It is a further
development of the model WAVEWATCH I, as developed at Delft University of
Technology (Tolman 1989, 1991) and WAVEWATCH II, developed at NASA, Goddard
Space Flight Center (e.g., Tolman 1992). WAVEWATCH III, however, differs ... from
its predecessors in many important points such as the governing equations, the
model structure, the numerical methods and the physical parameterizations.
WAVEWATCH III solves the spectral action density balance equation for
wavenumber-direction spectra. The implicit assumption of this equation is that
properties of medium (water depth and current) as well as the wave field itself
vary on time and space scales that are much larger than the variation scales of
a single wave. A further constraint is that the parameterizations of physical
processes included in the model do not address conditions where the waves are
strongly depth-limited. These two basic assumptions imply that the model can
generally by applied on spatial scales (grid increments) larger than 1 to 10
km, and outside the surf zone.
-The governing equations of WAVEWATCH III include refraction and straining
of the wave field due to temporal and spatial variations of the mean water
depth and of the mean current (tides, surges etc.), when applicable.
-Parameterizations of physical processes (source terms) include wave
growth and decay due to the actions of wind, nonlinear resonant interactions,
dissipation (`whitecapping') and bottom friction.
-Wave propagation is considered to be linear. Relevant nonlinear effects
such as resonant interactions are, therefore, included in the source terms
-The model includes several alleviation methods for the Garden Sprinkler
Effect (Booij and Holthuijsen, 1987, Tolman, 2002c).
-The model includes sub-grid representation of unresolved islands (Tolman
-The model includes options for chosing two source term packages: the
first is based on cycles 1 through 3 of the WAM model (WAMDIG 1988); the second
is based on Tolman and Chalikov (1996). The source term packages are selected
at the compile level.
-For research purposes only, the model includes a full nonlinear
interaction source term option.
-The model includes dynamically updated ice coverage.
-The model is prepared for data assimilation, but no data assimilation
package is provided.
-The model is written in ANSI standard FORTRAN 90, fully modular and fully
-The model uses a regularly spaced longitude-latitude grid (longitude and
latitude increment do not need to be equal)i and, optionally, a Cartesian grid.
-Wave energy spectra are discretized using a constant directional
increment (covering all directions), and a spatially varying wavenumber grid.
The latter grid corresponds to an invariant logarithmic intrinsic frequency
grid (Tolman and Booij 1998).
-Both a first order accurate and third order accurate numerical scheme are
available to describe wave propagation (Tolman 1995). The propagation scheme is
selected at the compile level.
-The source terms are integrated in time using a dynamically adjusted time
stepping algorithm, which concentrates computational efforts in conditions with
rapid spectral changes (Tolman 1992, 1997, 1999a).
-The model can optionally be compiled to include shared memory
parallelisms using OpenMP compiler directives.
-The model can optionally be compiled for a distributed memory environment
using the Message Passing Interface (MPI, see Tolman 2002a).
-Gridded fields of 18 input and mean wave parameters such as the
significant wave height, directions, frequencies etc.
-Output of wave spectra at selected locations.
-Output of wave spectra along arbitrary tracks.
-Up to 9 restart files per model run.
-Files with boundary data for up to 9 separate nested runs.
-The model provides binary or ASCII output, as well as output for the
GrADS graphics package by means of post processing.
[Summary provided by NOAA.]
ISO Topic Category
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints The model is subject to continuous development.
Booij, N. and L. H. Holthuijsen, 1987: Propagation of ocean waves in discrete
spectral wave models. J. Comp. Phys., 68, 307-326.
Komen, G. J., L. Cavaleri, M. Donelan, K. Hasselmann, S. Hasselmann and P. A.
E. M. Janssen, 1994: Dynamics and Modelling of Ocean Waves. Cambridge
University Press, 532 pp.
Tolman, H. L., 1989: The numerical model WAVEWATCH: ... a third generation model
for the hindcasting of wind waves on tides in shelf seas. Communications on
Hydraulic and Geotechnical Engineering, Delft Univ. of Techn., ISSN 0169-6548,
Rep. no. 89-2, 72 pp.
Tolman, H. L., 1991: A third-generation model for wind waves on slowly varying,
unsteady and inhomogeneous depths and currents. J. Phys. Oceanogr. , 21,
Tolman, H. L., 1992: Effects of numerics on the physics in a third-generation
wind-wave model. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 22, 1095-1111.
Tolman, H. L., 1995: On the selection of propagation schemes for a spectral
wind wave model. NWS/NCEP Office Note 411, 30 pp. + figures.
Tolman, H. L., 1997: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH-III
version 1.15. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note 151, 97 pp. (0.74Mb pdf
Tolman, H. L., 1999a: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH-III
version 1.18. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note 166, 110 pp. (0.76Mb pdf
Tolman, H. L., 1999b: WAVEWATCH-III version 1.18: Generating GRIB files. NOAA /
NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note 167, 7 pp. (0.15MB pdf file)
Tolman, H. L., 1999c: WAVEWATCH-III version 1.18: Post-processing using NCAR
graphics. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note 168, 9 pp. (0.15Mb pdf file).
Tolman, H. L., 2001: Improving propagation in ocean wave models. Ocean Wave
Measurement and Analysis, San Francisco, CA, B. L. Edge and J. M. Hemsley,
Eds., ASCE, 507-516.
Tolman, H. L., 2002a: Distributed memory concepts in the wave model WAVEWATCH
III. Parallel Computing, 28, 35-52.
Tolman, H. L., 2002b: Validation of WAVEWATCH III version 1.15 for a global
domain. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note Nr. 213, 33 pp. (2.7Mb pdf
Tolman, H. L., 2002c: Alleviating the Garden Sprinkler Effect in wind wave
models. Ocean Modelling, 4, 269-289.
Tolman, H.L. 2002d: Limiters in third-generation wind wave models. Global
Atmosphere and Ocean. System, 8, 67-83.
Tolman, H. L., 2002f: Testing of WAVEWATCH III version 2.22 in NCEP's NWW3
ocean wave model suite. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note Nr. 214, 99 pp.
(13 Mb pdf file in color or gresyscales).
Tolman, H. L., 2002g: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH-III
version 2.22. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 222, 133 pp. (0.89Mb pdf
Tolman, H. L., 2003: Treatment of unresolved islands and ice in wind wave
models. Ocean Modelling, 5, 219-231.
Tolman, H. L., B. Balasubramaniyan, L. D. Burroughs, D. V. Chalikov, Y. Y.
Chao, H. S. Chen, and V. M. Gerald, 2002: Development and implementation of
wind generated ocean surface wave models at NCEP. Weather and Forecasting, 17,
Tolman, H. L., and N. Booij, 1998: Modeling wind waves using
wavenumber-direction spectra and a variable wavenumber grid. The Global
Atmosphere and Ocean System, 6, 295-309.
Tolman, H. L. and D. Chalikov, 1996: Source terms in a third-generation
wind-wave model. J. Phys. Oceanogr, 26, 2497-2518.
WAMDIG 1988: The WAM model - A third generation ocean wave prediction model.
Journal of Physical Oceanography, 18, 1775-1810.
Creation and Review Dates