Publications / Journal Article

Islet: interpolation semi-Lagrangian element-based transport

Bradley, Andrew M.; Bosler, Peter A.; Guba, Oksana G.

Abstract. Advection of trace species, or tracers, also called tracer transport, in models of the atmosphere and other physical domains is an important and potentially computationally expensive part of a model's dynamical core. Semi-Lagrangian (SL) advection methods are efficient because they permit a time step much larger than the advective stability limit for explicit Eulerian methods without requiring the solution of a globally coupled system of equations as implicit Eulerian methods do. Thus, to reduce the computational expense of tracer transport, dynamical cores often use SL methods to advect tracers. The class of interpolation semi-Lagrangian (ISL) methods contains potentially extremely efficient SL methods. We describe a finite-element ISL transport method that we call the interpolation semi-Lagrangian element-based transport (Islet) method, such as for use with atmosphere models discretized using the spectral element method. The Islet method uses three grids that share an element grid: a dynamics grid supporting, for example, the Gauss–Legendre–Lobatto basis of degree three; a physics parameterizations grid with a configurable number of finite-volume subcells per element; and a tracer grid supporting use of Islet bases with particular basis again configurable. This method provides extremely accurate tracer transport and excellent diagnostic values in a number of verification problems.