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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Analyzing the adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) characteristics of a high-order 2D cubed-sphere shallow-water model

  • Author(s): Ferguson, JO;
  • Jablonowski, C;
  • Johansen, H;
  • McCorquodale, P;
  • Colella, P;
  • Ullrich, PA
  • et al.

Adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) is a technique that has been featured only sporadically in atmospheric science literature. This paper aims to demonstrate the utility of AMR for simulating atmospheric flows. Several test cases are implemented in a 2D shallow-water model on the sphere using the Chombo-AMR dynamical core. This high-order finite-volume model implements adaptive refinement in both space and time on a cubed-sphere grid using a mapped-multiblock mesh technique. The tests consist of the passive advection of a tracer around moving vortices, a steady-state geostrophic flow, an unsteady solid-body rotation, a gravity wave impinging on a mountain, and the interaction of binary vortices. Both static and dynamic refinements are analyzed to determine the strengths and weaknesses of AMR in both complex flows with small-scale features and large-scale smooth flows. The different test cases required different AMR criteria, such as vorticity or height-gradient based thresholds, in order to achieve the best accuracy for cost. The simulations show that the model can accurately resolve key local features without requiring global high-resolution grids. The adaptive grids are able to track features of interest reliably without inducing noise or visible distortions at the coarse-fine interfaces. Furthermore, the AMR grids keep any degradations of the large-scale smooth flows to a minimum.

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