The Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport Modeling System

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To responsibly manage our coastal resources requires an understanding of the processes responsible for coastal change. The CMHRP developed a Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system that allows the user to evaluate how different processes such as winds and waves, combined with sediment transport, interact with coastlines to modify them. Users can change model parameters such as the strength and directions of winds, and activate different interactions such as how waves alter ocean currents, to see how the coast might change during extreme events such as hurricanes. 

COAWST Modeling System graphic

 The COAWST modeling system joins an ocean model, an atmosphere model, a wave model, and a sediment transport model for studies of coastal change. 

Development of the publicly available, well-tested, expert-supported, and widely accepted COAWST model has already benefited the ocean research community and management in tracking ocean circulation, siting observational equipment, and daily forecasting of water levels, currents, ocean water temperature and salinity, wave heights, and sediment movement along the coast. The model also has a capability to predict the vulnerability of the coasts to natural hazards such as surge, waves, and storm impacts. A key advantage of the COAWST framework is that model runs are archived and publicly accessible. By analyzing this data history, researchers can study trends of storm tracks and ocean conditions and how they change over time.

COAWST is one of several models developed and applied by the CMHRP to predict the response of coastal and marine systems to environmental forcing and evaluate the threat to coastal communities and ecosystems. 


COAWST Modeling System graphic

 COAWST model predictions of wave heights, water levels, bottom stress, and changes to the seafloor during Hurricane Sandy. These results help scientists understand the larger-scale impacts from severe storms.