Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
Development and technical paper
20 May 2014
Development and technical paper |  | 20 May 2014

A mimetic, semi-implicit, forward-in-time, finite volume shallow water model: comparison of hexagonal–icosahedral and cubed-sphere grids

J. Thuburn, C. J. Cotter, and T. Dubos

Abstract. A new algorithm is presented for the solution of the shallow water equations on quasi-uniform spherical grids. It combines a mimetic finite volume spatial discretization with a Crank–Nicolson time discretization of fast waves and an accurate and conservative forward-in-time advection scheme for mass and potential vorticity (PV). The algorithm is implemented and tested on two families of grids: hexagonal–icosahedral Voronoi grids, and modified equiangular cubed-sphere grids.

Results of a variety of tests are presented, including convergence of the discrete scalar Laplacian and Coriolis operators, advection, solid body rotation, flow over an isolated mountain, and a barotropically unstable jet. The results confirm a number of desirable properties for which the scheme was designed: exact mass conservation, very good available energy and potential enstrophy conservation, consistent mass, PV and tracer transport, and good preservation of balance including vanishing ∇ × ∇, steady geostrophic modes, and accurate PV advection. The scheme is stable for large wave Courant numbers and advective Courant numbers up to about 1.

In the most idealized tests the overall accuracy of the scheme appears to be limited by the accuracy of the Coriolis and other mimetic spatial operators, particularly on the cubed-sphere grid. On the hexagonal grid there is no evidence for damaging effects of computational Rossby modes, despite attempts to force them explicitly.