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SMS - Surface Water Modeling System

Detailed Description

SMS - Surface Water Modeling System

SMS - Surface Water Modeling System

The Surface Water Modeling System (SMS) is a comprehensive environment for one-, two-, and three-dimensional hydrodynamic modeling. A pre- and post-processor for surface water modeling and design, SMS includes 2D finite element, 2D finite difference, 3D finite element modeling tools. Supported models include the USACE-ERDC supported TABS-MD (GFGEN, RMA2, RMA4, SED2D-WES, HIVEL2D), ADCIRC, CGWAVE, STWAVE, BOUSS2D, M2D, GENESIS, and WABED models. A comprehensive interface has also been developed for facilitating the use of the FHWA commissioned analysis package FESWMS. The TUFLOW numerical model with powerful flood analysis, wave analysis, and hurricane analysis is now supported. SMS also includes a generic model interface, which can be used to support models which have not been officially incorporated into the system.

The numeric models supported in SMS compute a variety of information applicable to surface water modeling. Primary applications of the models include calculation of water surface elevations and flow velocities for shallow water flow problems, for both steady-state or dynamic conditions. Additional applications include the modeling of contaminant migration, salinity intrusion, sediment transport (scour and deposition), wave energy dispersion, wave properties (directions, magnitudes and amplitudes) and others.

New enhancements and developments continue at the Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory (EMRL) at Brigham Young University in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (USACE-WES), and the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

What is New in 9.2 ?

  • New/Enhanced Model Interfaces
    - TUFLOW
    – New interface – TUFLOW is a 1D/2D hydraulic model specifically suited for floodplain delineation. It features very stable domain wetting/drying.
    - M2D –Updated interface and model – now supports bed morphology including hard-bottom case.
    - STWAVE – Updated interface and model – STWAVE has been updated to support either half- or full-plane spectral transformations. The full-plane version supports waves from all directions in the same simulation and uses multiple iterations to track waves through large variations in wave directions. The new version also supports spatially varied tidal surge, wind fields and bottom roughness.
    - CGWAVE - Updated interface and model – Model and interface now support floating barriers and variable bottom friction.
    - FESWMS - Updated interface and model – Interface now supports all sediment transport capabilities in the latest release of FST2DH.
    - WABED – New interface – WABED is a half-plane, steady-state near shore wave spectral transformation model.
    - GENESIS – Updated interface - 1D coastal morphology model
    User interface enhancements
  • Global Time Management Tools
  • Coastal mesh generation using Local Truncation Error Analysis
  • Spindown Steering Enhancements
  • Right click menus on the selected geometric objects
  • Faster paving
  • Tool for extracting tidal boundary conditions from global databases
  • Extensive reworking of the Contour options to handle all options of contour distribution and user controlled color pallet’s.

Automated Mesh/Grid Generation

SMS can be used to construct 2D and 3D finite element meshes and finite difference grids of rivers, estuaries, bays, or wetland areas. The tools include a sophisticated set of creation and editing tools to handle complex modeling situations with relative ease.  Several methods of finite element mesh creation are available, allowing you to create any combination of rectangular and triangular elements needed to represent your model domain. Both cartesian and boundary-fitted grid creation tools are available to allow representation of a model domain for finite difference models.  The powerful mesh/grid creation tools, coupled with GIS objects, are what makes SMS such an easy-to-use and accurate modeling system!

There are two main methods for building models in SMS, the direct approach and the conceptual modeling approach. With the direct approach, the first step is to create a mesh or grid. The model parameters, source/sink data, and boundary conditions are assigned directly to the nodestrings, nodes, and elements of the mesh. This approach is only suited for very simple models.

The most efficient approach for building realistic, complex models is the conceptual model approach. With this approach, a conceptual model is created using GIS objects, including points, arcs, and polygons. The conceptual model is constructed independently of a mesh or grid. It is a high-level description of the site including geometric features such as channels and banks, the boundary of the domain to be modeled, flow rates and water surface elevations of boundary conditions, and material zones with material properties such as Manning's n value. Once the conceptual model is complete, a mesh or grid network is automatically constructed to fit the conceptual model, and the model data are converted from the conceptual model to the elements and nodes of the mesh network.

GIS Tools

SMS will allow you to take advantage of all types of GIS data available for hydraulic modeling. The Map module of SMS includes a complete set of tools for importing, creating, and manipulating GIS vector and raster data. ArcGIS/ArcView is not a required component of the SMS software! You will find that SMS can work with your GIS data effectively with or without ArcGIS. A few of the powerful tools in SMS include:

  • Robust algorithms have been developed to allow you to handle large data sets (such as bathymetry data collected by LIDAR survey) with speed and accuracy.
  • Images (TIFF, JPEG, MrSID) can be geo-referenced, joined, and clipped.
  • Use TIFF or JPEG images to guide on-screen digitizing and to enhance presentation.
  • Boundary conditions and material properties from data layers can be assigned to your model using GIS overlay operations.
  • Coordinate System Conversions - Convert data between geographic and planar coordinate systems.
  • Control mesh/grid density and type by assigning properties to simple GIS objects.
  • Create observation points/cross sections for review and calibration of your model output.

Model Coupling/Steering

Many of the tasks performed as part of a numerical simulation are repetitious and time consuming. For example, a single project generally involves running the model many times in a "warm up" or "spin down" mode. To make this type of process easier, a tool referred to as the Steering Module. The main objectives of the Steering Module are to:

  • Simplify data sharing between models
  • Monitor model runs
  • Save time by automating repetitive user tasks
  • Achieve more accurate results from models

The tasks the steering module performs can be classified in two main groups. These include single model control, and multiple model coupling.  The control channels currently available in the Steering Module are:

RMA2 Spin Down

  • FESWMS Spin Down
  • ADCIRC<->STWAVE Interaction
  • M2D<->STWAVE Interaction
  • RMA2<->SED2D Interaction

Coastal Circulation/Wave Modeling

SMS supports coastal circulation modeling with advanced finite-element and finite-difference models.  You can choose which is better for your needs:

  • ADCIRC - ADCIRC (ADvanced CIRCulation Multi-dimensional Hydrodynamic Model) is a latest-generation multidimensional model based on the solution of the generalized wave equation formulation of the governing equations on a highly flexible unstructured grid.
  • M2D - The hydrodynamic circulation model M2D is a two-dimensional, finite-difference numerical approximation of the depth-integrated continuity and momentum equations.
  • TUFLOW - TUFLOW is a computational engine that provides two-dimensional (2D) and one-
    dimensional (1D) solutions of the free-surface flow equations to simulate flood
    and tidal wave propagation.
M2D Model

Wave modeling is also supported by SMS.  Once again, finite-difference or finite-element models are available. These models can analyze wave action to predict wave height and velocity:

  • STWAVE - STWAVE (STeady State Irregular WAVE Model) is a model that is computationally efficient steady state spectral wave energy propagation model.
  • CGWAVE - CGWAVE models harbor response taking into account outside sea state, harbor shape and man-made structures (i.e., piers, breakwaters, naval vessels). It is a forecasting and nowcasting tool used in coastal and military planning and civil engineering.
  • BOUSS2D - BOUSS-2D is a comprehensive numerical model for simulating the propagation and transformation of waves in coastal regions and harbors based on a time-domain solution of Boussinesq-type equations.
  • WABED - Wave-Action Balance Equation with Diffraction model. The WABED model is a nearshore wave transformation model capable of representing wave diffraction and reflection.

Interaction between waves and currents can be modeled using the Steering Module described above to couple a wave model with a circulation model. The most popular combination is ADCIRC - STWAVE coupling. This allows you to run the models together and find out how waves are affecting circulation!

River Modeling

River hydrodynamics can be modeled with SMS using one of several 2D models, including FESWMS, RMA2, HIVEL2D. The TUFLOW model engine is capable of representing a river system as 1D and 2D domains within SMS too!

River models will allow you predict water depth and velocity in complex waterways including bays, estuaries, and river reachs. Natural and man-made conditions can be simulated in unprecedented detail using the SMS pre and post processing tools.

Water Quality/Sediment Transport Modeling

In addition to hydrodynamics, you will often need to analyze pollutant and/or sediment transport in your waterway system.  There are 2 models supported in SMS that couple with RMA2 to add the capability you will need:

  • SED2D - A sediment transport numerical model that has the ability to compute sediment loadings and bed elevation changes when supplied with a hydrodynamic solution computed by RMA2.
  • RMA4 - A constituent migration modeling code that has the ability to compute constituent concentrations and dispersion when supplied with a hydrodynamic solution computed by RMA2.

Graphical User Interface

Thanks to the graphical tools of SMS, with standard MS Windows functionality, building models and viewing results is very easy and intuitive. All modeling parameters are entered through interactive graphics and easy-to-use dialog boxes. The software is well-suited for the construction of large, complex meshes (several thousand elements) of arbitrary shape. A finite element mesh of a simple region can be constructed within a few minutes. Meshes of more complex regions, which normally would take days or weeks to construct manually, can be constructed within a few hours. Mesh generation errors are easily detected during mesh construction, and can be corrected within minutes. Existing digital elevation models can be imported and used as background data to generate elevations for the model.

Graphics and Visualization

SMS is a powerful graphical tool for model creation and visualization of results. Models can be built using digital maps and elevation models for reference and source data. During the model building process, the graphical representation of the model allows quick review and presentation of your work. Fully 3D views, with contouring and shading, of your model allow anyone to see and understand the domain and parameters of your analysis.

Analysis results from any of the models in SMS can be output or displayed graphically using a variety of plots, including vector plots, contour plots, color-shaded contour plots, and time-history plots. Contour plots and color-shaded contour plots of water surface elevation, velocity, discharge, contaminant concentration, and bed scour and deposition can easily be generated for any of the computed time-steps. Time-history plots can be requested at any location to illustrate fluctuations in water surface elevation, velocity, discharge, contaminant concentration, and bed elevation. A data set calculator is provided, allowing the user to perform comparisons between analysis models—such as displaying the difference in water surface elevations and flow velocities due to a change in the operation of a flood gate.

Both steady-state and transient solutions can be shown animated (as if viewing a movie) using either particle trace, vector, or contour animation. For steady-state solutions, particle trace animation allows the user to clearly see the inherent flow patterns in the mesh (see image below). For transient solutions, vector and contour animation allows the user to observe how water surface elevation, velocity, discharge, contaminant concentration, and bed elevation vary with time (see below).

Flow Trace Animation

Transient Model Animation

SMS Models

Numerical models are programs that are separate from SMS that are used to run an analysis on a model. The models can be built in SMS, and then run through the numerical model program. SMS can then read in and display the results of the analysis.  SMS also has the option of using a “model wrapper” to run the model and display real-time results of during the model simulation.

The following numerical models are currently supported in SMS. Each model is included with the SMS installation (model executable files and documentation) and is fully linked with the SMS software.

A 2D, depth-integrated, barotropic time-dependent long wave, hydrodynamic circulation model. ADCIRC can be applied to deep ocean, continental shelves, coastal seas, and small-scale estuarine systems.
TUFLOW is a computational engine that provides two-dimensional (2D) and one-
dimensional (1D) solutions of the free-surface flow equations to simulate flood
and tidal wave propagation.
A comprehensive numerical model for simulating the propagation and transformation of waves in coastal regions and harbors based on a time-domain solution of Boussinesq-type equations.
Developed by the USACE, HIVEL2D is a two-dimensional model used to analyze high velocity flow.


The WABED model is a nearshore wave transformation model capable of representing wave diffraction and reflection.


A  2D, finite-difference hydrodynamic circulation model intended for analysis of coastal areas.


A wave model that can simultaneously simulate the effects of refraction, diffraction, reflections by bathymetry and structures, dissipation due to friction and breaking, and nonlinear amplitude dispersion.


A hydrodynamic modeling code from the USACE that supports 2D subcritical flow analysis, including wetting and drying and marsh porosity.


A hydrodynamic modeling code from the FHWA that supports both super and subcritical flow analyses, including area wetting and drying.


RMA4 can be applied to represent the transport of a contaminant, salinity intrusion, or tracking DO and BOD in a 2D system.


A shoreline response numerical modeling system. The model is adopted as the official shoreline change model of US Army Corps of Engineers.  Accounts for shoreline change by longshore sediment transport gradients.


A sediment transport model with the ability to compute sediment loading and bed elevation changes when supplied with a hydrodynamic solution computed by RMA2


HYDRO AS-2D performs 2D modeling of bodies of water. The procedure integrated in HYDRO AS-2D is based on the numerial solution of the 2D current equations with Finite-volume-Discretization.

A wave model simulates wave refraction and shoaling, wave breaking, diffraction, wave growth because of wind input, wave-wave interaction and white capping.

SMS Modules

The SMS interface is separated into several modules; these modules contain tools that allow manipulation and model creation from different data types. The modules of SMS are:

Map Module
Mesh Module
Cartesian Grid Module
Boundary Fitted Grid Module
Scatter Point Module

Map Module
The Map Module in SMS allows you to use GIS or CAD data, as well as TIFF or JPEG image data, to create and enhance visualization of your surface water models.

Images (such as USGS quad maps or aerial photographs) can be used in SMS as a reference for digitizing features in your model or as a backdrop to enhance model presentation. With GIS or CAD data, or data you have digitized yourself in SMS, you can assign parameters and boundary conditions to your model in a quick and intuitive manner. SMS will automatically generate a mesh or grid network and assign parameters/boundary conditions from your Map Module data. This greatly reduces the time and effort required for model building, allowing you to focus on analysis and calibration with your model.

The Map Module also allows you to set up observation points and cross sections where results from a numerical model can be compared to data collected in the real world. Further, reports and statistical analysis can be generated from these observation/calibration tools.

Mesh Module

The Mesh Module is used to construct 2D finite element meshes of rivers, estuaries, bays, wetland areas, or coastal regions. SMS includes a sophisticated set of mesh generation and editing tools to handle complex modeling situations. In SMS, 2D meshes are used as the basis for analysis for:

HIVEL-2D - supercritical flow model
FESWMS - FHWA commissioned hydrodynamic model
ADCIRC - coastal circulation model
CGWAVE - wave energy model
After an analysis, output data at each node of the mesh can be used to generate contour, fringe and vector plots to represent the solution. Multiple time steps from time variant solutions can be strung together to form an animation of the dynamic solution. SMS also generates animations of steady state vector functions such as flow velocity.

Cartesian Grid Module

The 2D Cartesian Grid Module contains tools used to construct 2D Cartesian finite difference grids. These grids consist of cells aligned with a rectilinear coordinate system. The tools provide a fast, efficient method for creating such grids, populating them with data and running a numerical model. The models that are supported in the Cartesian Grid Module are:

STWAVE - wave energy model
M2D - hydrodynamic circulation specifically adapted for coastal zones

Analysis results from these model can be displayed using the tools in the Cartesian Grid Module to create contour, fringe and vector plots to represent the solution. Multiple time steps from time variant solutions can be strung together to form an animation of the dynamic solutions as well.

Boundary-Fitted Grid Module

The Boundary Fitted Grid Module is used for pre- and post- processing of 2D and 3D extracted boundary fitted grids. These grids consist of rows and columns of cells. Unlike Cartesian Grids, the cells in boundary fitted grids can have any quadrilateral shape and therefore are not necessarily aligned with the x/y cartesian directions. Because of this, the grid better fits the boundary of the model domain. In SMS, the Boundary Fitted Grid Module is used to create simulations for use with CH3D and ICM.

Scatter Point Module

The Scatter Point Module is used to interpolate from groups of scattered data points to the other data types (i.e., meshes and grids). SMS supports three interpolation schemes including linear, natural neighbor and inverse distance weighted. The module is also used to view and edit survey data (i.e. SHOALS data).

Interpolation can be used to provide initial conditions, compare the results of overlapping meshes, or to verify a solution. This capability in SMS allows scattered data to be applied to any mesh or grid that has been constructed for modeling in SMS.

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