Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Community Model for
Coastal Sediment Transport


The U.S. Geological Survey and others are promoting the development of an open-source numerical model for sediment-transport in coastal regions. We are collaborating with other federal agencies, academic institutions, and private industry, with the goal of adopting and/or developing one or more models for use as scientific tools by the research community. We hope these models will evolve into standards for us, and possibly for use in applications by the broader community interested in coastal issues.

For more information about this project, please contact:

Chris Sherwood, csherwood @usgs.gov, (508) 457-2269
Brad Butman, bbutman@usgs.gov, (508) 457-2212
Rich Signell, rsignell@usgs.gov, (508) 457-2229
John Warner, jcwarner@usgs.gov, (508) 457-2237

USGS Project: National Community Sediment-Transport Model (NCSTM)

The Coastal and Marine Geology Program provides support for USGS activities in this project. The objectives of the NCSTM project are to:

  • Promote/test/select/develop/adopt/improve/maintain community models
  • Advance instrumentation and data analysis techniques for making measurements to test and improve sediment-transport models.
  • Advance software analysis and visualization tools that support model applications
  • Apply sediment transport models to benefit regional studies

Woods Hole Workshop, June, 2000

One of the first tasks of this project was to host a community-model workshop, where a group of more than 60 scientists discussed issues surrounding coastal modeling. The results of that meeting are summarized in "Sherwood, C.R., Signell, R.P., Harris, C.K., and Butman, Bradford, 2000, Workshop discusses community models for coastal sediment: EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 81, no. 43, p. 502", or USGS Report on Community Sediment Transport Model Workshop).

Sediment Transport in Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS)

The USGS has been leading a community effort to incorporate sediment-transport algorithms in ROMS, the regional ocean modeling system (http://marine.rutgers.edu/po/index.php?model=roms&page= ). We chose to focus our development efforts on ROMS because it is an advanced open-source model under active development by a large and diverse research community. ROMS is a free-surface hydrostatic ocean circulation model based on finite-difference approximations of the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations. It uses stretched, terrain-following coordinates in the vertical, and orthogonal curvilinear coordinates in the horizontal. A wide variety of turbulence submodels, advection schemes, and boundary conditions are available.

Sediment-transport routines have been added by John Warner (USGS) and Meinte Blaas (previously at UCLA, now at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands). Algorithms for erosion, bedload and suspended load transport, and deposition of non-cohesive sediments have been implemented. Any number of sediment classes and sediment layers can be represented; the number is limited only by computer memory. Bottom-boundary layer submodels parameterize the effect of surface waves on bottom stresses and apparent roughness. Moveable bed roughness algorithms represent ripple development and bottom drag. Future versions will incorporate algorithms for cohesive sediments and mixed sediments.

The most recent public version of ROMS with sediment-transport capabilities has been released and may be downloaded from the ROMS website (http://marine.rutgers.edu/po/index.php?model=roms&page= ).

Schematic illustration of changes in bottom sediment layers during erosion (top) and depostion (bottom). Schematic illustration of changes in bottom sediment layers during erosion (top) and depostion (bottom).

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