Great Lakes wave forecast system on high-resolution unstructured meshes

Abdolali, Ali; Banihashemi, Saeideh; Alves, Jose Henrique; Roland, Aron; Hesser, Tyler J.; Anderson Bryant, Mary; McKee Smith, Jane

Wind-wave forecasts play a crucial role in the North American Great Lakes region towards ensuring the safety of communities, enhancement of the economy, and protection of property. Modeling wind waves in closed and relatively shallow basins with complex bathymetry like the Great Lakes is a challenge that is successfully tackled in part by using variable-resolution triangular unstructured meshes with no limits in terms of computational scalability and maximum resolution in the coastal areas. In this paper, we discuss recent advances in developing unstructured mesh capabilities as part of the spectral wave model WAVEWATCH III, in the context of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operational requirements such as model robustness, efficiency, and accuracy. We revisit the history of developments leading to the transition from rectilinear to curvilinear grids and finally to an unstructured mesh version of NOAA's operational Great Lakes wave modeling system (GLWUv2.0). The article describes the development of the operational GLWUv2.0, from mesh design and scalability analysis to validation and verification for hindcast of storm cases and re-forecast using 4 months of retrospective simulations. In closed Great Lakes basins untouched by swell from distant sources, the atmospheric model's direct impact on wave behavior stands apart, showing reduced forecast accuracy over time, while maintaining consistent precision in accurately wind-hindcasted stormy conditions.

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Abdolali, Ali / Banihashemi, Saeideh / Alves, Jose Henrique / et al: Great Lakes wave forecast system on high-resolution unstructured meshes. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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