Exploring a Multiresolution Modeling Approach within the Shallow-Water Equations
Abstract The ability to solve the global shallow-water equations with a conforming, variable-resolution mesh is evaluated using standard shallow-water test cases. While the long-term motivation for this study is the creation of a global climate modeling framework capable of resolving different spatial and temporal scales in different regions, the process begins with an analysis of the shallow-water system in order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the approach developed herein. The multiresolution meshes are spherical centroidal Voronoi tessellations where a single, user-supplied density function determines the region(s) of fine- and coarse-mesh resolution. The shallow-water system is explored with a suite of meshes ranging from quasi-uniform resolution meshes, where the grid spacing is globally uniform, to highly variable resolution meshes, where the grid spacing varies by a factor of 16 between the fine and coarse regions. The potential vorticity is found to be conserved to within machine precision and the total available energy is conserved to within a time-truncation error. This result holds for the full suite of meshes, ranging from quasi-uniform resolution and highly variable resolution meshes. Based on shallow-water test cases 2 and 5, the primary conclusion of this study is that solution error is controlled primarily by the grid resolution in the coarsest part of the model domain. This conclusion is consistent with results obtained by others. When these variable-resolution meshes are used for the simulation of an unstable zonal jet, the core features of the growing instability are found to be largely unchanged as the variation in the mesh resolution increases. The main differences between the simulations occur outside the region of mesh refinement and these differences are attributed to the additional truncation error that accompanies increases in grid spacing. Overall, the results demonstrate support for this approach as a path toward multiresolution climate system modeling.