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Model Description

The latest version of WAVEWATCH III® is 5.16, released on 31 October 2016. Source code access can be requested under the Source Code Distribution tab on this page. If you already have a username and password, you can access the latest version . The manual (pdf) can be viewed here.

The grid generating software gridgenv3.0 is also available. This updated software can now generate bathymetry, mask and obstruction grids for rectilinear as well as curvilinear grids. To make the functions generic significant changes have been made to the function calls.

A portable package of scripts and Fortran code are provided to perform genetic optimization of the free parameters of the Generalized Multiple DIA in WAVEWATCH III. The package has been designed to work with v5.16

Documentation on all of the released versions of WAVEWATCH III® can be found under the Version Documentation and Errata tab on this page.


WAVEWATCH III® (Tolman 1997, 1999a, 2009) 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, as developed at Delft University of Technology (Tolman 1989, 1991a) 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. Furthermore, with model version 3.14, WAVEWATCH III® is evolving from a wave model into a wave modeling framework, which allows for easy development of additional physical and numerical approaches to wave modeling.

WAVEWATCH III® solves the random phase 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. With version 3.14 some source term options for extremely shallow water (surf zone) have been included, as well as wetting and drying of grid points. Whereas the surf-zone physics implemented so far are still fairly rudimentary, it does imply that the wave model can now be applied to arbitrary shallow water.

Model Features

Physical features:

  • 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'), bottom friction, surf-breaking (i.e., depth-induced breaking) and scattering due to wave-bottom interactions. The model is prepared for triad interactions and is prepared for other, as of yet undefined source terms, but the latter have not been implemented yet. WAM cycle 4, bottom scattering, surf zone physics and wetting/drying new in model version 3.14.
  • Wave propagation is considered to be linear. Relevant nonlinear effects such as resonant interactions are, therefore, included in the source terms (physics).
  • 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 2002e). A software package based on Matlab® has been developed to automate generation of grids including obstructions due to unresolved islands (Chawla and Tolman, 2007, 2008). Grid generation package first distributed with model version 3.14 through model distribution web page (see below).
  • The model includes options for choosing various term packages, some intended for operations, others for research. The source term packages are selected at the compile level.
  • The model includes dynamically updated ice coverage.
  • The model is prepared for data assimilation, but no data assimilation package is provided with the present distribution of the source code.
  • Spectral partitioning is now available for post-processing of point output, or for the entire wave model grid using the Vincent and Soille (1991) algorithm (Hanson and Jenssen, 2004; Hanson et al , 2006, 2009). New in model version 3.14

Numerical features:

  • The model is written in ANSI standard FORTRAN 90, fully modular and fully allocatable.
  • The model uses a regularly spaced longitude-latitude grid (longitude and latitude increment do not need to be equal) and, optionally, a Cartesian grid.
  • The model is set up for traditional one-way nesting, where model grids are run as separate models consecutively, starting with the models with the lowest spatial resolution..
  • With model version 3.14, a `mosaic' approach is available, where an arbitrary number of grids can be considered with full two-way interactions between all grids, effectively making the mosaic of grids operate as a single model with variable spatial resolution (Tolman, 2006, 2008). New in model version 3.14.
  • The mosaic approach introduced in version 3.14 only considers static grids. Relocatable grids within the mosaic are being developed. Already available in model version 3.14 is an approach where (a mosaic of grids) moves along a user-defined path. This allows for moving grid modeling of hurricanes away from the coast (Tolman and Alves, 2005). New in model version 3.14
  • 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, 2009).
  • 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).

Output Options

Version Documentation and Errata

The documentation of WAVEWATCH III® is available on line in pdf files. For each released model version an errata page is maintained, which is the sole source of distributing errors and fixes of the model. To receive information on model changes etc, subscribe to the MMAB mailing list.

Model version 5.16 (latest)

Model v 5.16 is the new public release of WAVEWATCH III. There have been upgrades to the modeling system since the last public release (v 4.18). WAVEWATCH III transitioned from an NCEP model to a community driven effort with developers spanning several organizations. Model development is done using a subversion server which is housed at NCEP.

New features in the wave model (this list can be seen in Section 1.1 of the manual as well. The manual (pdf) can be viewed here.):

  • Preparing for next model version, adding optional instrumentation to code for profiling of memory use (model version 5.00).
  • Optimization of IC3 (ice source function). Added non-dispersive variant of "turbulence under ice" ice source function to IC2. This is simpler than the existing version and requires fewer free parameters. Method is selected by the user. Added fluxes for momentum and energy associated with ice source functions. Preliminary scheme for scattering of waves by ice (model version 5.01).
  • Revisiting OpenMP parallelisms in the model. Revising previous OpenMP-only approach and introducing Hybrid MPI-OpenMP approach initiated by Farid Parpia of IBM (model version 5.02).
  • Implementing tripole grid functionality for first order scheme, and for gradient calculations (e.g. for refraction by depth/current gradients). Adding test case for tripole grid to regtests (model version 5.03).
  • Adding capability to handle cpp macros (model version 5.04).
  • Upgrade to ST6 physics (model version 5.05).
  • Adding the NCEP coupler capability (model version 5.06).
  • Adding OASIS coupler capability (model version 5.07).
  • Series of bug fix updates (model version 5.08).
  • Updates to SMC grid type (model version 5.09).
  • Adding sea ice scattering and creep dissipation source terms (model version 5.10).
  • Introducing namelists formats for input files. Traditional way of providing inputs is still possible using the inp suffix (model version 5.11).
  • Sea-state dependent stress-calculations are added. Updates to the restart files related to file size and optimization of initialization from restart files. Note, this means restart files are not backwards compatible (model version 5.12).
  • Adding TSA as a nonlinear wave-wave interaction source term option (model version 5.13).
  • Adding the capability for calculating space-time extremes (model version 5.14).
  • Optimization of wvae system tracking (model version 5.15).
  • Final preparations for distribution (model version 5.16).

Our grid generating software gridgenv3.0 is available to generate bathymetry, mask and obstruction grids for rectilinear as well as curvilinear grids. A portable package of scripts and Fortran code are provided to perform genetic optimization of the free parameters of the Generalized Multiple DIA in WAVEWATCH III.

Model version 4.18

Model v 4.18 is the new public release of WAVEWATCH III. There have been significant upgrades to the modeling system since the last public release (v 3.14). WAVEWATCH III has now transitioned from an NCEP model to a community driven effort with developers spanning several organizations. Model development is done using a subversion server which is housed at NCEP.

New features in the wave model (this list can be seen in section 1.1 of the manual as well. The manual (pdf) can be viewed here.):

  • Model version 4.00 was used as a set-up for the new version. The only main modification of this version of the code is removing the XYG and LLG switches, and replacing the choice of grid with a keyword in the code and in mod def.ww3.
  • Adding curvilinear grids from Rogers and Campbell (2009) (model version 4.01).
  • Adding unstructured grids from Roland (2009) (model version 4.02).
  • Adding new output fields (model versions 4.03 and 4.11).
  • Adding Ardhuin et al. (2010) source term package, and SHOWEX bottom friction source term (model version 4.04)
  • Adding iceberg blocking (model version 4.05).
  • Adding NetCDF output post-processing (model version 4.06).
  • Adding formal regression testing for model developers, adopted from previously undistributed NRL ‘nrltest’ directory (model version 4.07).
  • Adding GMD and nonlinear filter (model version 4.08).
  • Adding wave system tracking (model version 4.09).
  • Adding regular grid splitting tools (model version 4.10).
  • Adding second order UNO schemes (model version 4.12).
  • Adding SMC grid and rotated grid options (model version 4.13).
  • BYDRZ source term package (model version 4.14).
  • Mud-ice interactions (model version 4.15).
  • Infra-gravity wave module (model version 4.16).
  • Triad interactions (model version 4.17).
  • Final preparations for distribution (model version 4.18).

We are also releasing a new version of our grid generating software gridgenv2.0. This updated software can now generate bathymetry, mask and obstruction grids for rectilinear as well as curvilinear grids. To make the functions generic significant changes have been made to the function calls.

A portable package of scripts and Fortran code are provided to perform genetic optimization of the free parameters of the Generalized Multiple DIA in WAVEWATCH III. The package has been designed to work with v4.18

Model version 1.15

  • 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 file). The source code of this model has never been distributed.

Model version 1.18:

  • 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 file).
  • 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)
  • Version 1.18, errata, problems and fixes. With the release of model version 2.22, the older code is no longer maintained, and this web site is no longer updated.

Model version 2.22 :

  • Tolman, 2002g: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH-III version 2.22. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 222, 133 pp. (0.89MB PDF file).
  • Version 2.22, errata, problems and fixes. With the release of model version 3.14, the older code is no longer maintained, and this web site is no longer updated.

Model version 3.14 :

Source Code Distribution

The latest version of WAVEWATCH III® is 5.16, released on 31 October 2016.

Starting with model version 3.14, WAVEWATCH III® is distributed under an open source style license, through a password protected distribution site.

Model versions 1.18 and 2.22 have been distributed as public domain software, and can be found at the previous WAVEWATCH source code ftp site.

Review License and Request Access

Download the Source code

IMPORTANT NOTE! Access information is sent to your email address from NCEP Wavewatch Distro (NCEP.List.Wavewatch@noaa.gov) Please check that your email spam filters allow mail from this address to be delivered.

Note that code requests are considered manually, on a case-by-case basis, and may take up to a month for a response to be provided. If you have not received an email from us in that time please contact us.

Model development

The model is subject to continuous development. The following new features are presently being incorporated in WAVEWATCH III® at NCEP and by our partners, or are considered for incorporation in the future.

New releases will generally become available after implementation of a new model version at NCEP. Research model versions may be made available to those interested in and committed to basic model development. Contact NCEP.EMC.wavewatch@NOAA.gov for requests to get access to the research versions of the model.

References

Booij, N. and L. H. Holthuijsen, 1987: Propagation of ocean waves in discrete spectral wave models. J. Comp. Phys., 68, 307-326.

Chawla, A., and H. L. Tolman, 2007: Automated grid generation for WAVEWATCH III. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 254, 71 pp.

Chawla, A., and H. L. Tolman, 2008: Obstruction grids for spectral wave models, Ocean Modelling, 22, 12-25.

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.

Chawla, A., and H. L. Tolman, 2007: Automated grid generation for WAVEWATCH III. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note 254, 71 pp..

Chawla, A. and H. L. Tolman, 2008: Obstruction grids for wave models. Ocean Modelling, 22, 12-25.

Hanson, J. L. and R. E. Jensen, 2004: Wave system diagnostics for numerical wave models. In 8th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting, JCOMM Tech. Rep. 29, WMO/TD-No.1319.

Hanson, J.L., B. A. Tracy, H. L. Tolman and D. Scott, 2006: Pacific hindcast performance evaluation of three numerical wave models. in 9th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting, JCOMM Tech.Rep.34. Paper A2.

Hanson, J. L., B. A. Tracy, H. L. Tolman and R. D. Scott, 2009: Pacific hindcast performance of three numerical wave models, J. Atmos. Oceanic Techn., In Press.

The WAVEWATCH III Development Group., 2016: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH III version 5.16. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 329, 326 pp. + Appendices.

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., 1991a: A third-generation model for wind waves on slowly varying, unsteady and inhomogeneous depths and currents. J. Phys. Oceanogr. , 21, 782-797

Tolman, H. L., 1991b: Effects of tides and storm surges on North Sea wind waves. J. Phys. Oceanogr. , 21, 766-781

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 file).

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 file).

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 file).

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 file).

Tolman, H. L., 2003: Treatment of unresolved islands and ice in wind wave models. Ocean Modelling, 5, 219-231.

Tolman, H. L., 2006: Development of a multi-grid version of WAVEWATCH III. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 256, 88 pp.+ Appendices.

Tolman, H. L., 2008: A mosaic approach to wind wave modeling. Ocean Modelling, 25, 35-47.

Tolman, H. L., 2009: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH III version 3.14. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 276, 194 pp.+ Appendices (0.83Mb pdf file).

Tolman, H. L., 2014: User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH III version 4.18. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / MMAB Technical Note 316, 194 pp.+ Appendices (pdf).

Tolman, H. L., and J. H, G, M. Alves, 2005: Numerical modeling of wind waves generated by tropical cyclones using moving grids. Ocean Modelling, 9, 305-323.

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, 311-333.

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.

Vincent, L. and P. Soille, 1991: Watersheds in digital spaces: An efficient algorithm based on immersion simulations. IEEE Transactions of Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 13, 583-598.

WAMDIG 1988: The WAM model - A third generation ocean wave prediction model. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 18, 1775-1810.

WAVEWATCH III® © 2009 National Weather Service (NWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all rights reserved. WAVEWATCH III® is a registered trademark of the National Weather Service. No unauthorized use without permission.


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