4.5. Global Ocean Simulation

This example experiment demonstrates using the MITgcm to simulate the planetary ocean circulation. The simulation is configured with realistic geography and bathymetry on a \(4^{\circ} \times 4^{\circ}\) spherical polar grid. Fifteen levels are used in the vertical, ranging in thickness from 50 m at the surface to 690 m at depth, giving a maximum model depth of 5200 m. Different time-steps are used to accelerate the convergence to equilibrium (see Bryan 1984 [Bry84]) so that, at this resolution, the configuration can be integrated forward for thousands of years on a single processor desktop computer.

4.5.1. Overview

The model is forced with climatological wind stress data from Trenberth (1990) [TOL90] and NCEP surface flux data from Kalnay et al. (1996) [KKK+96]. Climatological data (Levitus and Boyer 1994a,b [LB94a, LB94b]) is used to initialize the model hydrography. Levitus and Boyer seasonal climatology data is also used throughout the calculation to provide additional air-sea fluxes. These fluxes are combined with the NCEP climatological estimates of surface heat flux, resulting in a mixed boundary condition of the style described in Haney (1971) [Han71]. Altogether, this yields the following forcing applied in the model surface layer.

(4.30)\[{\cal F}_{u} = \frac{\tau_{x}}{\rho_{0} \Delta z_{s}}\]
(4.31)\[{\cal F}_{v} = \frac{\tau_{y}}{\rho_{0} \Delta z_{s}}\]
(4.32)\[{\cal F}_{\theta} = - \lambda_{\theta} ( \theta - \theta^{\ast} ) - \frac{1}{C_{p} \rho_{0} \Delta z_{s}}{\cal Q}\]
(4.33)\[{\cal F}_{s} = - \lambda_{s} ( S - S^{\ast} ) + \frac{S_{0}}{\Delta z_{s}}({\cal E} - {\cal P} - {\cal R})\]

where \({\cal F}_{u}\), \({\cal F}_{v}\), \({\cal F}_{\theta}\), \({\cal F}_{s}\) are the forcing terms in the zonal and meridional momentum and in the potential temperature and salinity equations respectively. The term \(\Delta z_{s}\) represents the top ocean layer thickness in meters. It is used in conjunction with a reference density, \(\rho_{0}\) (here set to 999.8 kg m-3), a reference salinity, \(S_{0}\) (here set to 35 ppt), and a specific heat capacity, \(C_{p}\) (here set to 4000 J kg-1 K-1), to convert input dataset values into time tendencies of potential temperature (with units of oC s-1), salinity (with units ppt s-1) and velocity (with units m s-2). The externally supplied forcing fields used in this experiment are \(\tau_{x}\), \(\tau_{y}\), \(\theta^{\ast}\), \(S^{\ast}\), \(\cal{Q}\) and \(\mathcal{E}-\mathcal{P}-\mathcal{R}\). The wind stress fields (\(\tau_x\), \(\tau_y\)) have units of N m-2. The temperature forcing fields (\(\theta^{\ast}\) and \(Q\)) have units of oC and W m-2 respectively. The salinity forcing fields (\(S^{\ast}\) and \(\cal{E}-\cal{P}-\cal{R}\)) have units of ppt and m s-1 respectively. The source files and procedures for ingesting this data into the simulation are described in the experiment configuration discussion in section Section 4.5.3.

4.5.2. Discrete Numerical Configuration

The model is configured in hydrostatic form. The domain is discretized with a uniform grid spacing in latitude and longitude on the sphere \(\Delta \phi=\Delta \lambda=4^{\circ}\), so that there are 90 grid cells in the zonal and 40 in the meridional direction. The internal model coordinate variables \(x\) and \(y\) are initialized according to

\[ \begin{align}\begin{aligned}x &= r\cos(\phi), &\Delta x & = r\cos(\Delta \phi)\\y &= r\lambda, &\Delta y &= r\Delta \lambda\end{aligned}\end{align} \]

Arctic polar regions are not included in this experiment. Meridionally the model extends from 80oS to 80oN. Vertically the model is configured with fifteen layers with the following thicknesses:

\(\Delta z_{1}\) = 50 m
\(\Delta z_{2}\) = 70 m
\(\Delta z_{3}\) = 100 m
\(\Delta z_{4}\) = 140 m
\(\Delta z_{5}\) = 190 m
\(\Delta z_{6}\) = 240 m
\(\Delta z_{7}\) = 290 m
\(\Delta z_{8}\) = 340 m
\(\Delta z_{9}\) = 390 m
\(\Delta z_{10}\) = 440 m
\(\Delta z_{11}\) = 490 m
\(\Delta z_{12}\) = 540 m
\(\Delta z_{13}\) = 590 m
\(\Delta z_{14}\) = 640 m
\(\Delta z_{15}\) = 690 m

(here the numeric subscript indicates the model level index number, \({\tt k}\)) to give a total depth, \(H\), of -5200 m. The implicit free surface form of the pressure equation described in Marshall et al. (1997) [MHPA97] is employed. A Laplacian operator, \(\nabla^2\), provides viscous dissipation. Thermal and haline diffusion is also represented by a Laplacian operator.

Wind-stress forcing is added to the momentum equations in (4.34) for both the zonal flow \(u\) and the meridional flow \(v\), according to equations (4.30) and (4.31). Thermodynamic forcing inputs are added to the equations in (4.35) for potential temperature, \(\theta\), and salinity, \(S\), according to equations (4.32) and (4.33). This produces a set of equations solved in this configuration as follows:

(4.34)\[\begin{split}\frac{Du}{Dt} - fv + \frac{1}{\rho}\frac{\partial p'}{\partial x} - \nabla_{h}\cdot A_{h}\nabla_{h}u - \frac{\partial}{\partial z}A_{z}\frac{\partial u}{\partial z} &= \begin{cases} \mathcal{F}_u & \text{(surface)} \\ 0 & \text{(interior)} \end{cases} \\ \frac{Dv}{Dt} + fu + \frac{1}{\rho}\frac{\partial p'}{\partial y} - \nabla_{h}\cdot A_{h}\nabla_{h}v - \frac{\partial}{\partial z}A_{z}\frac{\partial v}{\partial z} &= \begin{cases} \mathcal{F}_v & \text{(surface)} \\ 0 & \text{(interior)} \end{cases}\end{split}\]
\[\frac{\partial \eta}{\partial t} + \nabla_{h}\cdot \vec{u} = 0\]
(4.35)\[\begin{split}\frac{D\theta}{Dt} - \nabla_{h}\cdot K_{h}\nabla_{h}\theta - \frac{\partial}{\partial z}\Gamma(K_{z})\frac{\partial\theta}{\partial z} &= \begin{cases} {\cal F}_\theta & \text{(surface)} \\ 0 & \text{(interior)} \end{cases} \\ \frac{D s}{Dt} - \nabla_{h}\cdot K_{h}\nabla_{h}s - \frac{\partial}{\partial z}\Gamma(K_{z})\frac{\partial s}{\partial z} &= \begin{cases} {\cal F}_s & \text{(surface)} \\ 0 & \text{(interior)} \end{cases} \\\end{split}\]
\[g\rho_{0} \eta + \int^{0}_{-z}\rho' dz = p'\]

where \(u=\frac{Dx}{Dt}=r \cos(\phi)\frac{D \lambda}{Dt}\) and \(v=\frac{Dy}{Dt}=r \frac{D \phi}{Dt}\) are the zonal and meridional components of the flow vector, \(\vec{u}\), on the sphere. As described in Section 2, the time evolution of potential temperature \(\theta\) equation is solved prognostically. The total pressure \(p\) is diagnosed by summing pressure due to surface elevation \(\eta\) and the hydrostatic pressure. Numerical Stability Criteria

The Laplacian dissipation coefficient, \(A_{h}\), is set to \(5 \times 10^5\) m s-1. This value is chosen to yield a Munk layer width (see Adcroft 1995 [Adc95]),

(4.36)\[M_{w} = \pi ( \frac { A_{h} }{ \beta } )^{\frac{1}{3}}\]

of ~600 km. This is greater than the model resolution in low-latitudes, \(\Delta x \approx\) 400 km, ensuring that the frictional boundary layer is adequately resolved.

The model is stepped forward with a time step \(\Delta t_{\theta}\) = 24 hours for thermodynamic variables and \(\Delta t_{v}\) = 30 minutes for momentum terms. With this time step, the stability parameter to the horizontal Laplacian friction (Adcroft 1995 [Adc95])

(4.37)\[S_{l} = 4 \frac{A_{h} \Delta t_{v}}{{\Delta x}^2}\]

evaluates to 0.6 at a latitude of \(\phi\) = 80o, which is above the 0.3 upper limit for stability, but the zonal grid spacing \(\Delta x\) is smallest at \(\phi\) = 80o where \(\Delta x=r\cos(\phi)\Delta \phi\approx\) 77 km and the stability criterion is already met one grid cell equatorwards (at \(\phi\) = 76o).

The vertical dissipation coefficient, \(A_{z}\), is set to \(1\times10^{-3}\) m2 s-1. The associated stability limit

(4.38)\[S_{l} = 4 \frac{A_{z} \Delta t_{v}}{{\Delta z}^2}\]

evaluates to 0.0029 for the smallest model level spacing (\(\Delta z_{1}\) = 50 m) which is well below the upper stability limit.

The numerical stability for inertial oscillations (Adcroft 1995 [Adc95])

(4.39)\[S_{i} = f^{2} {\Delta t_v}^2\]

evaluates to 0.07 for \(f=2\omega\sin(80^{\circ})=1.43\times10^{-4}\) s-1, which is below the \(S_{i} < 1\) upper limit for stability.

The advective CFL (Adcroft 1995 [Adc95]) for a extreme maximum horizontal flow speed of \(| \vec{u} |\) = 2 m s-1

(4.40)\[S_{a} = \frac{| \vec{u} | \Delta t_{v}}{ \Delta x}\]

evaluates to \(5 \times 10^{-2}\). This is well below the stability limit of 0.5.

The stability parameter for internal gravity waves propagating with a maximum speed of \(c_{g}\) = 10 m s-1 (Adcroft 1995 [Adc95])

(4.41)\[S_{c} = \frac{c_{g} \Delta t_{v}}{ \Delta x}\]

evaluates to \(2.3 \times 10^{-1}\). This is close to the linear stability limit of 0.5.

4.5.3. Experiment Configuration

The experiment files

contain the code customizations and parameter settings for these experiments. Below we describe the customizations to these files associated with this experiment. Driving Datasets

Figure 4.26-Figure 4.31 show the relaxation temperature (\(\theta^{\ast}\)) and salinity (\(S^{\ast}\)) fields, the wind stress components (\(\tau_x\) and \(\tau_y\)), the heat flux (\(Q\)) and the net fresh water flux (\({\cal E} - {\cal P} - {\cal R}\)) used in equations (4.30)-(4.33). The figures also indicate the lateral extent and coastline used in the experiment. Figure (— missing figure — ) shows the depth contours of the model domain.

restoring sst field

Figure 4.26 Annual mean of relaxation temperature (oC)

restoring sss field

Figure 4.27 Annual mean of relaxation salinity (g/kg)

forcing tau_x field

Figure 4.28 Annual mean of zonal wind stress component (N m-2)

forcing tau_y field

Figure 4.29 Annual mean of meridional wind stress component (N m-2)

forcing qnet field

Figure 4.30 Annual mean heat flux (W m-2)

forcing emp field

Figure 4.31 Annual mean freshwater flux (Evaporation-Precipitation) (m s-1) File input/data

Listing 4.23 verification/tutorial_global_oce_latlon/input/data
 1# ====================
 2# | Model parameters |
 3# ====================
 5# Continuous equation parameters
 6 &PARM01
 7 tRef = 15*20.,
 8 sRef = 15*35.,
 9 viscAr=1.E-3,
10 viscAh=5.E5,
11 diffKhT=0.,
12 diffKrT=3.E-5,
13 diffKhS=0.,
14 diffKrS=3.E-5,
15 rhoConst=1035.,
16 rhoConstFresh=1000.,
17 eosType = 'JMD95Z',
18 ivdc_kappa=100.,
19 implicitDiffusion=.TRUE.,
20 allowFreezing=.TRUE.,
21 exactConserv=.TRUE.,
22 useRealFreshWaterFlux=.TRUE.,
23 useCDscheme=.TRUE.,
24# turn on looped cells
25 hFacMin=.05,
26 hFacMindr=50.,
27# set precision of data files
28 readBinaryPrec=32,
29 &
31# Elliptic solver parameters
32 &PARM02
33 cg2dMaxIters=500,
34 cg2dTargetResidual=1.E-13,
35 &
37# Time stepping parameters
38 &PARM03
39 nIter0=       0,
40 nTimeSteps = 20,
41# 100 years of integration will yield a reasonable flow field
42# startTime =          0.,
43# endTime   = 3110400000.,
44 deltaTmom = 1800.,
45 tauCD =     321428.,
46 deltaTtracer= 86400.,
47 deltaTClock = 86400.,
48 deltaTfreesurf= 86400.,
49 abEps = 0.1,
50 pChkptFreq= 1728000.,
51 dumpFreq=   864000.,
52 taveFreq=   864000.,
53 monitorFreq=1.,
54# 2 months restoring timescale for temperature
55 tauThetaClimRelax=  5184000.,
56# 6 months restoring timescale for salinity
57 tauSaltClimRelax = 15552000.,
58 periodicExternalForcing=.TRUE.,
59 externForcingPeriod=2592000.,
60 externForcingCycle=31104000.,
61 &
63# Gridding parameters
64 &PARM04
65 usingSphericalPolarGrid=.TRUE.,
66 delR= 50.,  70., 100., 140., 190.,
67      240., 290., 340., 390., 440.,
68      490., 540., 590., 640., 690.,
69 ygOrigin=-80.,
70 dySpacing=4.,
71 dxSpacing=4.,
72 &
74# Input datasets
75 &PARM05
76 bathyFile=      'bathymetry.bin',
77 hydrogThetaFile='lev_t.bin',
78 hydrogSaltFile= 'lev_s.bin',
79 zonalWindFile=  'trenberth_taux.bin',
80 meridWindFile=  'trenberth_tauy.bin',
81 thetaClimFile=  'lev_sst.bin',
82 saltClimFile=   'lev_sss.bin',
83 surfQnetFile=   'ncep_qnet.bin',
84 the_run_name=   'global_oce_latlon',
85# fresh water flux is turned on, comment next line to it turn off
86# (maybe better with surface salinity restoring)
87 EmPmRFile=      'ncep_emp.bin',
88 &

This file specifies the main parameters for the experiment. The parameters that are significant for this configuration are

  • Lines 7-8,

    tRef= 15*20.,
    sRef= 15*35.,

    set reference values for potential temperature and salinity at each model level in units of oC and ppt. The entries are ordered from surface to depth. Density is calculated from anomalies at each level evaluated with respect to the reference values set here.

  • Line 9,


    this line sets the vertical Laplacian dissipation coefficient to \(1 \times 10^{-3}\) m2 s-1. Boundary conditions for this operator are specified later.

  • Line 10,


    this line sets the horizontal Laplacian frictional dissipation coefficient to \(5 \times 10^{5}\) m2 s-1. Boundary conditions for this operator are specified later.

  • Lines 11, 13,


    set the horizontal diffusion coefficient for temperature and salinity to 0, since pkg/gmredi is used.

  • Lines 12, 14,


    set the vertical diffusion coefficient for temperature and salinity to \(3 \times 10^{-5}\) m2 s-1. The boundary condition on this operator is \(\frac{\partial}{\partial z}=0\) at both the upper and lower boundaries.

  • Lines 15-17,

    eosType = 'JMD95Z',

    set the reference densities for sea water and fresh water, and selects the equation of state (Jackett and McDougall 1995 [JM95])

  • Lines 18-19,


    specify an “implicit diffusion” scheme with increased vertical diffusivity of 100 m2/s in case of instable stratification.

  • Line 28,


    Sets format for reading binary input datasets containing model fields to use 32-bit representation for floating-point numbers.

  • Line 33,


    Sets maximum number of iterations the two-dimensional, conjugate gradient solver will use, irrespective of convergence criteria being met.

  • Line 34,


    Sets the tolerance which the 2-D conjugate gradient solver will use to test for convergence in (2.15) to \(1 \times 10^{-13}\). Solver will iterate until tolerance falls below this value or until the maximum number of solver iterations is reached.

  • Line 39,


    Sets the starting time for the model internal time counter. When set to non-zero this option implicitly requests a checkpoint file be read for initial state. By default the checkpoint file is named according to the integer number of time step value nIter0. The internal time counter works in seconds. Alternatively, startTime can be set.

  • Line 40,


    Sets the time step number at which this simulation will terminate. At the end of a simulation a checkpoint file is automatically written so that a numerical experiment can consist of multiple stages. Alternatively endTime can be set.

  • Line 44,


    Sets the timestep \(\Delta t_{v}\) used in the momentum equations to 30 minutes. See Section 2.2.

  • Line 45,


    Sets the D-grid to C-grid coupling time scale \(\tau_{CD}\) used in the momentum equations.

  • Lines 46-48,

    deltaTClock = 86400.,
    deltaTfreesurf= 86400.,

    Sets the default timestep, \(\Delta t_{\theta}\), for tracer equations and implicit free surface equations to 24 hours. See Section 2.2.

  • Line 76,


    This line specifies the name of the file from which the domain bathymetry is read. This file is a 2-D (\(x,y\)) map of depths. This file is assumed to contain 32-bit binary numbers giving the depth of the model at each grid cell, ordered with the \(x\) coordinate varying fastest. The points are ordered from low coordinate to high coordinate for both axes. The units and orientation of the depths in this file are the same as used in the MITgcm code. In this experiment, a depth of 0 m indicates a solid wall and a depth of <0 m indicates open ocean.

  • Lines 79-80,


    These lines specify the names of the files from which the \(x\)- and \(y\)- direction surface wind stress is read. These files are also 3-D (\(x,y,time\)) maps and are enumerated and formatted in the same manner as the bathymetry file.

Other lines in the file input/data are standard values that are described in the Section 3.8. File input/data.pkg

This file uses standard default values and does not contain customizations for this experiment. File input/eedata

This file uses standard default values and does not contain customizations for this experiment. Files input/trenberth_taux.bin and input/trenberth_tauy.bin

The input/trenberth_taux.bin and input/trenberth_tauy.bin files specify 3-D (\(x,y,time\)) maps of wind stress \((\tau_{x},\tau_{y})\), based on values from Treberth et al. (1990) [TOL90]. The units are N m-2. File input/bathymetry.bin

The input/bathymetry.bin file specifies a 2-D (\(x,y\)) map of depth values. For this experiment values range between 0 and -5200 m, and have been derived from ETOPO5. The file contains a raw binary stream of data that is enumerated in the same way as standard MITgcm 2-D horizontal arrays. File code/SIZE.h

Listing 4.24 verification/tutorial_global_oce_latlon/code/SIZE.h
 4C    include SIZE.h
 5C    !DESCRIPTION: \bv
 6C     *==========================================================*
 7C     | SIZE.h Declare size of underlying computational grid.
 8C     *==========================================================*
 9C     | The design here supports a three-dimensional model grid
10C     | with indices I,J and K. The three-dimensional domain
11C     | is comprised of nPx*nSx blocks (or tiles) of size sNx
12C     | along the first (left-most index) axis, nPy*nSy blocks
13C     | of size sNy along the second axis and one block of size
14C     | Nr along the vertical (third) axis.
15C     | Blocks/tiles have overlap regions of size OLx and OLy
16C     | along the dimensions that are subdivided.
17C     *==========================================================*
18C     \ev
20C     Voodoo numbers controlling data layout:
21C     sNx :: Number of X points in tile.
22C     sNy :: Number of Y points in tile.
23C     OLx :: Tile overlap extent in X.
24C     OLy :: Tile overlap extent in Y.
25C     nSx :: Number of tiles per process in X.
26C     nSy :: Number of tiles per process in Y.
27C     nPx :: Number of processes to use in X.
28C     nPy :: Number of processes to use in Y.
29C     Nx  :: Number of points in X for the full domain.
30C     Ny  :: Number of points in Y for the full domain.
31C     Nr  :: Number of points in vertical direction.
33      INTEGER sNx
34      INTEGER sNy
35      INTEGER OLx
36      INTEGER OLy
37      INTEGER nSx
38      INTEGER nSy
39      INTEGER nPx
40      INTEGER nPy
41      INTEGER Nx
42      INTEGER Ny
43      INTEGER Nr
44      PARAMETER (
45     &           sNx =  45,
46     &           sNy =  40,
47     &           OLx =   2,
48     &           OLy =   2,
49     &           nSx =   2,
50     &           nSy =   1,
51     &           nPx =   1,
52     &           nPy =   1,
53     &           Nx  = sNx*nSx*nPx,
54     &           Ny  = sNy*nSy*nPy,
55     &           Nr  =  15)
57C     MAX_OLX :: Set to the maximum overlap region size of any array
58C     MAX_OLY    that will be exchanged. Controls the sizing of exch
59C                routine buffers.
62      PARAMETER ( MAX_OLX = OLx,
63     &            MAX_OLY = OLy )

Four lines are customized in this file for the current experiment

  • Line 45,


    this line sets the number of grid points of each tile (or sub-domain) along the \(x\)-coordinate axis.

  • Line 46,


    this line sets the number of grid points of each tile (or sub-domain) along the \(y\)-coordinate axis.

  • Lines 49,51,


    these lines set, respectively, the number of tiles per process and the number of processes along the \(x\)-coordinate axis. Therefore, the total number of grid points along the \(x\)-coordinate axis corresponding to the full domain extent is \(Nx=sNx*nSx*nPx=90\).

  • Line 55,


    this line sets the vertical domain extent in grid points.