Predicting water conditions along the Iberian coasts

Iulia Popescu writes about the OPENCoastS project and its forecast mission

Seas and oceans are important drivers for the European economy and they need to be preserved and developed in a sustainable way. In support of this view, the European Commission is implementing a long-term strategy called Blue Growth to boost the progress of the European marine sector.

One of the initiatives adhering to Blue Growth is OPENCoastS, or On-demand Operational Coastal Circulation Forecast Service.

OPENCoastS is a service that builds on-demand circulation forecast systems for different users along the North Atlantic coast. OPENCoastS generates forecasts of water levels, 2D velocities and wave parameters over the region of interest for periods of 72 hours. The system is useful in anticipating natural disasters and accidents in the coast, e.g. floods and chemical spills and can help in search and rescue operations.

The service was developed by the National Laboratory for Civil Engineering (LNEC) in 2010 as WIFF (Water Information Forecast Framework) and uses the SCHISM modelling system.

Since 2010, the system has been producing 48-hour forecasts on a daily basis for the Portuguese coast and is running on High-Throughput Compute and storage resources provided by the NCG-INGRID-PT data centre, which is part of the Portuguese National Distributed Computing Infrastructure (INCD) and the EGI federation.

LNEC provides this service to Portuguese-based researchers free of charge and the regional forecasts are open to everyone via the web portal, but LNEC researchers Anabela Oliveira and Alberto Azevedo are working on making OPENCoastS a service available at an international scale.

The role of distributed computing and the future of OPENCoastS

Oliveira and Azevedo argue that the development of forecast systems requires a strong knowledge of coastal processes and IT, along with access to significant computational and storage resources. The INCD computational and storage capacity needed to run the water forecast service every day uses three typical configurations:

  • Reference run: 60h CPU + 3GB storage / 72h period daily forecast
  • Large run : 600h CPU + 30GB storage / 72h period daily forecast
  • Very large reference run: 1200h CPU + 60GB storage / 72h period daily forecast

These values can amount to up to 2500 cores and 2TB storage per year for a total of 100 site deployments.

In the future, the platform could use even more computing resources to facilitate the access to circulation forecasts to biologists, geologists and biogeochemists, who have strong needs in understanding the impact of water dynamics and ecology.

More information

OPENCoastS portal

Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil (LNEC)

Iniciativa Nacional de Computação Distribuida (INCD)

Iulia Popescu is a Communications Officer at the EGI Foundation.