The vertical and horizontal challenges of the spatial discretization for ocean models

Mohamed Iskandarani

Nov. 7, 2002, 2:30 p.m. T 711

The spatial discretization of oceanic basin poses some a set of severe computational issues. Horizontally, the challenge is primarily in representing the complex geometry of ocean basins. Vertically, the challenge is in representing the geometry and physical processes relevant to the oceanic circulation. Current vertical discretizations amount to a choice of the vertical coordinate system. The traditional choices are: z-levels, terrain-following and isopycnal models. Here we review a model based on an unstructured spectral element model that uses isopycnal coordinates in the vertical. Experience with other vertical coordinates will be presented as well.