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OPENCoastS: how to forecast coastal dynamics worldwide

Updated 30/06/2021

Coastal forecast systems are nowadays essential tools to support sea and harbour management, civil protection emergencies, navigation procedures, military operations and recreation activities. They not only anticipate natural disasters but also the impact of human-made coastal disasters (e.g. oil and chemical spills) and support in search and rescue operations.

The intensive computational usage of OPENCoastS can only be possible with the support of the EGI core services.


Setting up and maintaining such systems requires a team of experts on coastal dynamics and computer science as well as the availability of computing resources to guarantee the timely delivery of predictions.

Scientists Anabela Oliveira, Alberto Azevedo and their team at the National Laboratory for Civil Engineering in Lisbon, Portugal, have tackled this challenge by taking advantage of a strong coastal dynamics team and IT development, in collaboration with LIP, the University of La Rochelle (CNRS) and the University of Cantabria. On top of that, they made use of EGI’s computational core services.

Together, they developed OPENCoastS: an open-source platform to develop on-demand hydrodynamic forecast systems. With OPENCoastS, a user can simulate hydrodynamics forced by tides, winds and river flows, and include the interactions with waves and stratification effects.

This interface is relatively straightforward to set up a new forecast system at the user-selected coastal region and provides a visualisation and download interface. Furthermore, in-site and Sentinel satellite data comparisons are now available to validate the forecasts, aiming at providing confidence to the user on the quality of the results. During the EOSC-hub project, for example, OPENCoastS attracted over 350 users from 61 countries, a clear measure of its success and user uptake.

Considerable computational resources are necessary to guarantee the timely delivery of multiple, simultaneous simulations with dozens or a hundred thousand model grid points. OPENCoastS is operated using EGI resource providers and takes advantage of EGI services for authentication, Cloud Compute and High-Throughput Compute, simulation dispatch management as well as agile storage.

On average, each OPENCoastS forecast simulation requires daily 60h of CPU and 2GB of storage to produce a period of 48h of forecast results. Considering that OPENCoastS has approximately 30 active recurring users, and each user can deploy up to 5 forecast systems, the service has to deal with nearly 9000 computing hours and 300GB of storage daily. This intensive computational usage can only be possible with the support of the EGI core services and the infrastructure provided by the European Open Science Cloud.

The EGI-ACE project, led by the EGI Foundation, will expand OPENCoastS to water quality forecasts and climate change scenario simulation. The computational and storage capacity requirements will be even higher for the expanded service.

EGI Services

EGI High-Throughput Compute

Execute thousands of computational tasks to analyse large datasets

EGI Cloud Compute

Run virtual machines on-demand with complete control over computing resources


OPENCoastS is a free service at the point of usage and is available as an open-source software.

ReferenceOliveira et al. 2019. OPENCoastS: An Open-Access App for Sharing Coastal Prediction Information for Management and Recreation. Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11540).