A mass-conserving advection scheme for offline simulation of scalar transport in coastal ocean models

Philip Gillibrand, M. Herzfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


We present a flux-form semi-Lagrangian (FFSL) advection scheme designed for offline scalar transport simulation with coastal ocean models using curvilinear horizontal coordinates. The scheme conserves mass, overcoming problems of mass conservation typically experienced with offline transport models, and permits long time steps (relative to the Courant number) to be used by the offline model. These attributes make the method attractive for offline simulation of tracers in biogeochemical or sediment transport models using archived flow fields from hydrodynamic models. We describe the FFSL scheme, and test it on two idealised domains and one real domain, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. For comparison, we also include simulations using a traditional semi-Lagrangian advection scheme for the offline simulations. We compare tracer distributions predicted by the offline FFSL transport scheme with those predicted by the original hydrodynamic model, assess the conservation of mass in all cases and contrast the computational efficiency of the schemes. We find that the FFSL scheme produced very good agreement with the distributions of tracer predicted by the hydrodynamic model, and conserved mass with an error of a fraction of one percent. In terms of computational speed, the FFSL scheme was comparable with the semi-Lagrangian method and an order of magnitude faster than the full hydrodynamic model, even when the latter ran in parallel on multiple cores. The FFSL scheme presented here therefore offers a viable mass-conserving and computationally-efficient alternative to traditional semi-Lagrangian schemes for offline scalar transport simulation in coastal models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalOcean Modelling
Early online date3 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016


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