Predicting Coastal Storm Impacts: 4th COAWST Model Training

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The USGS has been leading the development of a Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Waves-Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System.

This article is part of the February-March 2019 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter.

Understanding the processes responsible for coastal change is important for managing both our natural and economic coastal resources. Storms are one of the primary driving forces causing coastal change from a coupling of wave- and wind-driven flows. To better understand storm impacts and their effects on our coastlines, there is an international need to better predict storm paths and intensities. To fill this gap, the USGS has been leading the development of a Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Waves-Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System.

This open-source tool combines many sophisticated systems that each provide relative earth-system components necessary to investigate the dynamics of coastal storm impacts. Specifically, the COAWST Modeling System includes an atmosphere component—Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF), an ocean component—Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), a wave component—Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN), and a sediment component—the USGS Community Sediment Models. The USGS has provided and developed varying aspects of all these individual systems and provided enhanced capabilities to allow these components to feed back to one another. For example, a typical hurricane modeling simulation may include great details for the atmosphere component, but with limited connectivity to the ocean. However, with the COAWST system, these simulations will allow the ocean and waves to dynamically evolve and provide a feedback to the atmosphere simulation. This will modify the storm development and provide a more realistic suite of physical storm processes. Currently, the COAWST modeling system has over 800 registered users. 

screen shot of COAWST Modeling System

COAWST Modeling System. (Public domain.)

group photo of COAWST Modeling System training attendees

COAWST Modeling System training attendees at Hunt Library, North Carolina State University. (Credit: J.B. Zambon. Public domain.)

To advance the user community of this modeling system, the USGS has held trainings every two years since 2012. The most recent training, held Feb.25–28, 2019, in the James Hunt Library at North Carolina State University, was hosted by Research Oceanographer John Warner of the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, and Ruoying He, a Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University. Warner leads the development and maintenance of the COAWST system and He’s Ocean Observing and Modeling Group was involved in the development process and includes expert users.

training room with tables and large screens. Participants sit at the tables.

COAWST model training room. (Credit: John Warner, USGS. Public domain.)

COAWST model training participant sitting at tables in conference room

COAWST model training participants. (Credit: John Warner, USGS. Public domain.)

The training provided both a hands-on tutorial of the system, as well as fundamental information about the modeling components. Tutorials and demonstrations were given by developers and expert users of WRF, SWAN, and ROMS on each model separately and how they interact. Users from around the world traded case studies, techniques, tips, new features, and additional tools for COAWST. Over 70 scientists from around the world attended the training on-site, while others utilized the presentation materials and recordings of the training made available online.

These trainings provide a great deal of value to COAWST users, and the USGS will continue to provide these trainings to enhance the user community and the modeling system itself.

For more information about the COAWST Modeling System, visit the website, access the Development of a Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System article, or contact John Warner.



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Date published: July 25, 2018

COAWST: A Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave- Sediment Transport Modeling System

To better identify the significant processes affecting our coastlines and how those processes create coastal change we have developed a Coupled Ocean – Atmosphere – Wave – Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System, which is integrated by the Model Coupling Toolkit to exchange data fields between the ocean model ROMS, the atmosphere model WRF, the wave model SWAN, and the sediment...