ISEC Model Respository


  1. What is ADCIRC and what can it do?
  2. What platforms does ADCIRC run on?
  3. What are its main features?
  4. What does ADCIRC need as input?
  5. What does ADCIRC create as output?
  6. How do I try it out?
  7. Are there any restrictions on ADCIRC use?
  8. How do I visualize the results?
  9. Who wrote ADCIRC?
  10. Has ADCIRC been validated?
  11. What if I find a bug in the code?
  12. How can I contribute to the development of ADCIRC?

What is ADCIRC and what can it do?

ADCIRC is a system of computer programs for solving time dependent, free surface circulation and transport problems in two and three dimensions. These programs utilize the finite element method in space and therefore can be run on highly flexible, irregularly spaced grids. Typical ADCIRC applications have included: (i) modeling tidally and wind driven circulation in coastal waters, (ii) forecasting hurricane storm surge and flooding, (iii) dredging feasibility and material disposal studies, and (iv) larval transport studies.

What platforms does ADCIRC run on?

ADCIRC runs on platforms including Windows PCs, Macs, Linux workstations, Unix workstations and largely parallel HPC machines including Linux clusters, Suns, Crays, IBMs, etc. We are not aware of any platform that supports Fortran that ADCIRC does not run on. We routinely use the Intel and PGI Fortran compilers. On parallel machines an MPI library is necessary.

What are its main features?

      Use of Cartesian or spherical coordinates
      2DDI and 3D mode
      Full wetting/drying elements (2D and 3D)
      Barrier elements (e.g. levees)
      Conduits and porous barriers
      Harmonic analysis ("on the fly")
      Cold or hot starts
      Well documented with web-served user's manual
      Model design criteria
      Large domain - localized resolution strategy to simplify often very difficult boundary condition specification
      Very low numerical damping model allows model parameters to be based on physically relevant values
      Consistent with the governing equations
      Runs on single processor computers and parallel computers using MPI
      Ascii and NetCDF output formats

What does ADCIRC need as input?

A set of files which defines such things as: Grid and boundary information, Model parameter and periodic boundary conditions, Passive scalar transport, Nodal attributes, Non-periodic elevation boundary conditions, Non-periodic, normal flux boundary conditions, Meteorological forcing input (single or multi file), Wave radiation stress forcing, Self attraction/earth load tide forcing, 2DDI Hot start

What does ADCIRC create as output?

A series of files which contain fluid elevation/depth and velocity, wind velocity, and atmospheric pressure. These can be 3D or 2D depending on the input.

How do I try it out?

There are test problems that can be downloaded from the home page. Currently, there is no trial version of ADCIRC for download. It may be possible to obtain a trial version as part of the SMS software package ( which serves as a grid setup tool and a model output visualization tool.

Are there any restrictions on ADCIRC use?

ADCIRC code cannot be redistributed. ADCIRC code is made freely available to academic, government, and other not-for-profit research purposes. Commercial use of ADCIRC is possible, but terms of use must be fully negotiated with the major software authors. if any results from ADCIRC, either direct or indirect, become published, the ADCIRC model should be acknowledged in print as well.

How do I visualize the results?

There are tools to generate Google Earth KMZ graphics from the ADCIRC results.

Who wrote ADCIRC?

ADCIRC has been developed by Dr. Rick Luettich at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Marine Sciences and by Dr. Joannes Westerink at the University of Notre Dame, Dept. of Civil Engineering and Geologic Sciences.

Has ADCIRC been validated?

The ADCIRC developers focused on proving that they are correctly solving the governing partial differential equations without introducing artificial damping or artificial modes that alter the stated physics. They proved consistency and convergence rates by examining problems with a range of dynamic balances so that their analytical tests mimic real world applications. They based error estimates on comparisons to simplified problems with analytical solutions or on Richardson extrapolation.

They used their models to solve real world problems applying observed geometry and boundary conditions, universal air-sea momentum transfer coefficients and frictional dissipation parameters, ideally based on small scale process specific measurements, so that a thorough evaluation of the model's performance could be made. They computed model to measurement error estimates and when possible measurement error estimates to define model errors.

Interested readers are referred to the substantial publication list at the
ADCIRC homepage.

What if I find a bug in the code?

There is a list serve ( where bugs can be reported. The primary contributors (Joannes Westerink and Rick Luettich) welcome bug reports.

How can I contribute to the development of ADCIRC?

The list serve ( is good place to start connecting with people who are currently active within the development community. There is an ADCIRC community workshop each year which is open to anyone. More information can be found on the list serve.