STORM: Coastal Modeling

ADCIRC is a multi-scale, multi-physics coastal circulation model which is very prominent in the coastal modeling community today. This model analyzes the effects of winds, tides, waves, and currents on large bodies of water and is therefore a useful tool to predict the effects of large storms approaching the coast.  ADCIRC has been under development for over a decade and has achieved good scalability and performance through years by fine tuning it to the best available parallization tools of the time. Nevertheless, this tool is becoming hampered by the old techniques used in its development. In order to maintain relevancy for the foreseeable future, the ADCIRC code base needs to be updated so that it can take advantage of the cutting edge tools developed for coastal modeling.

The aim of the STORM project is to broaden ADCIRC from a successful, but somewhat static coastal modeling tool that is tied to a single solution algorithm and the MPI parallelization paradigm, to a dynamic computational platform that is comprised of multiple solution algorithms, that readily admits new solution algorithms and that is built on a transformational new parallelization scheme that will allow us to scale to at least 256k compute cores on modern HPC systems. We will do this by creating a living, evolving coastal modeling framework that continues to lead the community in merging physical science/engineering and high performance computing and will make the framework available to the broader community as a sustainable long term solution for its coastal modeling needs. We will utilize these advancements in the highly demanding coastal storm surge forecasting system that we presently operate to demonstrate both improved robustness, speed, and scalability of the model solution. We expect this effort will shorten the time required to provide reliable forecasting results and improve our ability to provide highly resolved, accurate, and physically complete predictions on an unprecedented scale. Concurrently, it will enable the use of smaller resources for simulations of increased scale which improves the usability and widens the applicability of ADCIRC in a broader community. The development of tightly integrated web-oriented products like CERA will enable the wide and timely dissemination of forecast modeling results to reach a broad audience.

The project work is performed by people representing a range of domains: from computer scientists to coastal scientists and engineers. The work targets the future needs of research and modeling groups in the coastal science and engineering communities including academic researchers, governmental agencies such as US Army Corps of Engineers, DHS, NOAA, and US Navy, and the private sector.
Experience shows that in order to improve the scalability and performance of applications we need to change both, the underlying execution model, as well as the algorithmic logic. Today’s parallel applications and their algorithms are designed for the current prevalent programming models (MPI, OpenMP, etc.) and it is often not sufficient to replace the underlying runtime system paradigms. New algorithms and data structures need to be designed to take advantage of finer grain parallelism, message driven computation (one sided communication), implicit overlap of computation and communication, and runtime based adaptive resource management. For this reason, the STORM project will co-design the algorithms and parallel data structures, and the underlying execution model based on an ongoing performance analysis which guides the development and implementation. Specifically the STORM project will apply the ParalleX execution model — and its implementation HPX (High Performance ParalleX) — to ADCIRC in order to overcome the limitations of its current implementation. The project will research how the coherent programming model implemented by HPX, which unifies all different types of parallel execution in HPC systems can be used to the advantage of the applications and programmers. All of this is embedded in the goal to create a sustainable software framework and infrastructure that is the foundation for coastal circulation and storm surge modeling needs of a wide community for at least the next 20 years.

For more information about the STORM project, please visit the project website at

This work is supported by NSF Award Number: 1339782

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