The Diabatic Contour-Advective Semi-Lagrangian Algorithms for the Spherical Shallow Water Equations

Ali R. Mohebalhojeh*, David G. Dritschel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The diabatic contour-advective semi-Lagrangian (DCASL) algorithm is extended to the thermally forced shallow water equations on the sphere. DCASL rests on the partitioning of potential vorticity (PV) to adiabatic and diabatic parts solved, respectively, by contour advection and a grid-based conventional algorithm. The presence of PV in the source term for diabatic PV makes the shallow water equations distinct from the quasigeostrophic model previously studied. To address the more rapid generation of finescale structures in diabatic PV, two new features are added to DCASL: (i) the use of multiple sets of contours with successively finer contour intervals and (ii) the application of the underlying method of DCASL at a higher level to diabatic PV. That is, the diabatic PV is allowed to have both contour and grid parts. The added features make it possible to make the grid part of diabatic PV arbitrarily small and thus pave the way for a fully Lagrangian DCASL in the presence of forcing.

The DCASL algorithms are constructed using a standard semi-Lagrangian (SL) algorithm to solve for the grid-based part of diabatic PV. The 25-day time evolution of an unstable midlatitude jet triggered by the action of thermal forcing is used as a test case to examine and compare the properties of the DCASL algorithms with a pure SL algorithm for PV. Diagnostic measures of vortical and unbalanced activity as well as of the relative strength of the grid and contour parts of the solution for PV indicate that the superiority of contour advection can be maintained even in the presence of strong, nonsmooth forcing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2979-2994
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2009




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