Density Current

In this example, we demonstrate the usage of the ClimateMachine to solve the density current test by Straka 1993. We solve a flow in a box configuration, which is representative of a large-eddy simulation. Several versions of the problem setup may be found in literature, but the general idea is to examine the vertical ascent of a thermal bubble (we can interpret these as simple representation of convective updrafts).

Description of experiment

The setup described below is such that the simulation reaches completion (timeend = 900 s) in approximately 4 minutes of wall-clock time on 1 GPU

  1. Dry Density Current (circular potential temperature perturbation)
  2. Boundaries
    • Impenetrable(FreeSlip()) - no momentum flux, no mass flux through walls.
    • Impermeable() - non-porous walls, i.e. no diffusive fluxes through walls.
  3. Domain - 25600m (horizontal) x 10000m (horizontal) x 6400m (vertical)
  4. Resolution - 100m effective resolution
  5. Total simulation time - 900s
  6. Mesh Aspect Ratio (Effective resolution) 1:1
  7. Overrides defaults for
    • CPU Initialisation
    • Time integrator
    • Sources
    • Smagorinsky Coefficient Csmag
  8. Default settings can be found in src/Driver/<files>.jl

This experiment setup assumes that you have installed the ClimateMachine according to the instructions on the landing page. We assume the users' familiarity with the conservative form of the equations of motion for a compressible fluid

The following topics are covered in this example

  • Package requirements
  • Defining a model subtype for the set of conservation equations
  • Defining the initial conditions
  • Applying boundary conditions
  • Applying source terms
  • Choosing a turbulence model
  • Adding tracers to the model
  • Choosing a time-integrator

The following topics are not covered in this example

  • Defining new boundary conditions
  • Defining new turbulence models
  • Building new time-integrators

Boilerplate (Using Modules)

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Before setting up our experiment, we recognize that we need to import some pre-defined functions from other packages. Julia allows us to use existing modules (variable workspaces), or write our own to do so. Complete documentation for the Julia module system can be found here.

We need to use the ClimateMachine module! This imports all functions specific to atmospheric and ocean flow modeling. While we do not cover the ins-and-outs of the contents of each of these we provide brief descriptions of the utility of each of the loaded packages.

using ClimateMachine
ClimateMachine.init(parse_clargs = true)

using ClimateMachine.Atmos
using ClimateMachine.Orientations
[1636503132.879479] [hpc-92-37:14380:0]       ib_verbs.h:84   UCX  ERROR ibv_exp_query_device(mlx5_0) returned 38: No space left on device
  • Required so that we inherit the appropriate model types for the large-eddy simulation (LES) and global-circulation-model (GCM) configurations.
using ClimateMachine.ConfigTypes
  • Required so that we may define diagnostics configurations, e.g. choice of file-writer, choice of output variable sets, output-frequency and directory,
using ClimateMachine.Diagnostics
  • Required so that we may define (or utilise existing functions) functions that are called-back or executed at frequencies of either timesteps, simulation-time, or wall-clock time.
using ClimateMachine.GenericCallbacks
  • Required so we load the appropriate functions for the time-integration component. Contains ODESolver methods.
using ClimateMachine.ODESolvers
  • Required for utility of spatial filtering functions (e.g. positivity preservation)
using ClimateMachine.Mesh.Filters
  • Required so functions for computation of temperature profiles.
using Thermodynamics.TemperatureProfiles
  • Required so functions for computation of moist thermodynamic quantities and turbulence closures

are available.

using Thermodynamics
using ClimateMachine.TurbulenceClosures
  • Required so we may access our variable arrays by a sensible naming convention rather than by numerical array indices.
using ClimateMachine.VariableTemplates
  • Required so we may access planet parameters (CLIMAParameters specific to this problem include the gas constant, specific heats, mean-sea-level pressure, gravity and the Smagorinsky coefficient)

In ClimateMachine we use StaticArrays for our variable arrays.

using StaticArrays

We also use the Test package to help with unit tests and continuous integration systems to design sensible tests for our experiment to ensure new / modified blocks of code don't damage the fidelity of the physics. The test defined within this experiment is not a unit test for a specific subcomponent, but ensures time-integration of the defined problem conditions within a reasonable tolerance. Immediately useful macros and functions from this include @test and @testset which will allow us to define the testing parameter sets.

using Test

using CLIMAParameters
using CLIMAParameters.Atmos.SubgridScale: C_smag
using CLIMAParameters.Planet: R_d, cp_d, cv_d, MSLP, grav
struct EarthParameterSet <: AbstractEarthParameterSet end
const param_set = EarthParameterSet()

Initial Conditions


The following variables are assigned in the initial condition

  • state.ρ = Scalar quantity for initial density profile
  • state.ρu= 3-component vector for initial momentum profile
  •ρe= Scalar quantity for initial total-energy profile humidity
  • state.tracers.ρχ = Vector of four tracers (here, for demonstration only; we can interpret these as dye injections for visualisation purposes)
function init_densitycurrent!(problem, bl, state, aux, localgeo, t)
    (x, y, z) = localgeo.coord

    # Problem float-type
    FT = eltype(state)
    param_set = parameter_set(bl)

    # Unpack constant parameters
    R_gas::FT = R_d(param_set)
    c_p::FT = cp_d(param_set)
    c_v::FT = cv_d(param_set)
    p0::FT = MSLP(param_set)
    _grav::FT = grav(param_set)
    γ::FT = c_p / c_v

    # Define bubble center and background potential temperature
    xc::FT = 0
    yc::FT = 0
    zc::FT = 3000
    rx::FT = 4000
    rz::FT = 2000
    r = sqrt(((x - xc)^2) / rx^2 + ((z - zc)^2) / rz^2)

    # TODO: clean this up, or add convenience function:
    # This is configured in the reference hydrostatic state
    ref_state = reference_state(bl)
    θ_ref::FT = ref_state.virtual_temperature_profile.T_surface
    Δθ::FT = 0
    θamplitude::FT = -15.0

    # Compute temperature difference over bubble region
    if r <= 1
        Δθ = 0.5 * θamplitude * (1 + cospi(r))

    # Compute perturbed thermodynamic state:
    θ = θ_ref + Δθ                                      ## potential temperature
    π_exner = FT(1) - _grav / (c_p * θ) * z             ## exner pressure
    ρ = p0 / (R_gas * θ) * (π_exner)^(c_v / R_gas)      ## density
    T = θ * π_exner
    e_int = internal_energy(param_set, T)
    ts = PhaseDry(param_set, e_int, ρ)
    ρu = SVector(FT(0), FT(0), FT(0))                   ## momentum
    # State (prognostic) variable assignment
    e_kin = FT(0)                                       ## kinetic energy
    e_pot = gravitational_potential(bl.orientation, aux)## potential energy
    ρe_tot = ρ * total_energy(e_kin, e_pot, ts)         ## total energy

    # Assign State Variables
    state.ρ = ρ
    state.ρu = ρuρe = ρe_tot
init_densitycurrent! (generic function with 1 method)

Model Configuration

We define a configuration function to assist in prescribing the physical model.

function config_densitycurrent(
) where {FT}

    # The model coefficient for the turbulence closure is defined via the
    # [CLIMAParameters
    # package]( A reference
    # state for the linearisation step is also defined.
    T_surface = FT(300)
    T_min_ref = FT(0)
    T_profile = DryAdiabaticProfile{FT}(param_set, T_surface, T_min_ref)
    ref_state = HydrostaticState(T_profile)

    # The fun part! Here we assemble the `AtmosModel`.
    ##md # !!! note
    ##md #     Docs on model subcomponent options can be found here:
    ##md #     - [`param_set`](
    ##md #     - [`turbulence`](@ref Turbulence-Closures-docs)
    ##md #     - [`source`](@ref atmos-sources)
    ##md #     - [`init_state`](@ref init-dc)

    _C_smag = FT(0.21)
    physics = AtmosPhysics{FT}(
        param_set;                                      # Parameter set corresponding to earth parameters
        ref_state = ref_state,                          # Reference state
        turbulence = Vreman(_C_smag),                   # Turbulence closure model
        moisture = DryModel(),                          # Exclude moisture variables
        tracers = NoTracers(),                          # Tracer model with diffusivity coefficients
    model = AtmosModel{FT}(
        AtmosLESConfigType,                             # Flow in a box, requires the AtmosLESConfigType
        physics;                                        # Atmos physics
        init_state_prognostic = init_densitycurrent!,   # Apply the initial condition
        source = (Gravity(),),                          # Gravity is the only source term here

    # Finally, we pass a `Problem Name` string, the mesh information, and the
    # model type to  the [`AtmosLESConfiguration`](@ref ClimateMachine.AtmosLESConfiguration) object.
    config = ClimateMachine.AtmosLESConfiguration(
        "DryDensitycurrent",      # Problem title [String]
        N,                        # Polynomial order [Int]
        resolution,               # (Δx, Δy, Δz) effective resolution [m]
        xmax,                     # Domain maximum size [m]
        ymax,                     # Domain maximum size [m]
        zmax,                     # Domain maximum size [m]
        param_set,                # Parameter set.
        init_densitycurrent!,     # Function specifying initial condition
        model = model,            # Model type
        periodicity = (false, false, false),
        boundary = ((1, 1), (1, 1), (1, 1)),   # Set all boundaries to solid walls
    return config
config_densitycurrent (generic function with 1 method)

Keywords are used to specify some arguments (see appropriate source files).

function main()
    # These are essentially arguments passed to the
    # [`config_densitycurrent`](@ref config-helper) function.  For type
    # consistency we explicitly define the problem floating-precision.
    FT = Float64
    # We need to specify the polynomial order for the DG discretization,
    # effective resolution, simulation end-time, the domain bounds, and the
    # courant-number for the time-integrator. Note how the time-integration
    # components `solver_config` are distinct from the spatial / model
    # components in `driver_config`. `init_on_cpu` is a helper keyword argument
    # that forces problem initialisation on CPU (thereby allowing the use of
    # random seeds, spline interpolants and other special functions at the
    # initialisation step.)
    N = 4
    Δx = FT(100)
    Δy = FT(250)
    Δv = FT(100)
    resolution = (Δx, Δy, Δv)
    xmax = FT(25600)
    ymax = FT(1000)
    zmax = FT(6400)
    t0 = FT(0)
    timeend = FT(100)
    CFL = FT(1.5)

    # Assign configurations so they can be passed to the `invoke!` function
    driver_config = config_densitycurrent(FT, N, resolution, xmax, ymax, zmax)

    # Choose an Explicit Single-rate Solver LSRK144 from the existing [ODESolvers](@ref
    # ODESolvers-docs) options Apply the outer constructor to define the
    ode_solver_type = ClimateMachine.ExplicitSolverType(
        solver_method = LSRK144NiegemannDiehlBusch,
    solver_config = ClimateMachine.SolverConfiguration(
        ode_solver_type = ode_solver_type,
        init_on_cpu = true,
        Courant_number = CFL,

    # Invoke solver (calls `solve!` function for time-integrator), pass the driver, solver and diagnostic config
    # information.
    result =
        ClimateMachine.invoke!(solver_config; check_euclidean_distance = true)

    # Check that the solution norm is reasonable.
    @test isapprox(result, FT(1); atol = 1.5e-2)
main (generic function with 1 method)

The experiment definition is now complete. Time to run it. julia --project=$CLIMA_HOME tutorials/Atmos/densitycurrent.jl --vtk 1smins to run with VTK output enabled at intervals of 1 simulation minute.


Test Passed

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