Also known as
Model type Modular
Model part of larger framework
Note on status model
Date note status model
Incorporated models or components:
Spatial dimensions 2D
Spatial extent
Model domain Coastal, Marine
One-line model description Spectral wind wave model
Extended model description Third generation random phase spectral wave model, including shallow water physcis.

physical oceanography,

Name Hendrik Tolman
Type of contact Model developer
Institute / Organization NOAA/NCEP
Postal address 1 5200 Auth Road Room 209
Postal address 2
Town / City Camp Springs
Postal code 20746
State Maryland
Country United States
Email address

Name Ali Abdolali
Type of contact Model developer
Institute / Organization NOAA/NCEP
Postal address 1 5830 University Research Court
Postal address 2
Town / City College park
Postal code 20740
State Maryland
Country United States
Email address

Supported platforms
Unix, Linux
Other platform
Programming language

Fortran77, Fortran90, Matlab

Other program language
Code optimized
Multiple processors implemented
Nr of distributed processors
Nr of shared processors
Start year development 1992
Does model development still take place? Yes
If above answer is no, provide end year model development
Code development status Active
When did you indicate the 'code development status'? 2020
Model availability As code
Source code availability
(Or provide future intension)
Through web repository
Source web address
Source csdms web address
Program license type Other
Program license type other --
Memory requirements --
Typical run time --

Describe input parameters wind at 10m, air-sea temperature difference, ice concentration, curents and water levels (bathymetry)
Input format ASCII, Binary
Other input format
Describe output parameters From wave heights to spectral data, see manual
Output format ASCII, Binary
Other output format
Pre-processing software needed? No
Describe pre-processing software
Post-processing software needed? Yes
Describe post-processing software Matlab and other possible but not necessary
Visualization software needed? Yes
If above answer is yes Matlab
Other visualization software GrADS

Describe processes represented by the model Evolution of wind wave spectra under influence of wind, breaking, nonlinear interactions, bottom interaction (including shoalng and refraction), currents, water level changes and ice concentrsations. No diffraction.
Describe key physical parameters and equations Spectral action balance equation.
Describe length scale and resolution constraints Theoretically length scale larger than longest wave length (10km), practically highest resolution sub km. Largest scales should correspond to spatial scales of forcing.
Describe time scale and resolution constraints Time steps from seconds to 1h. Time length of runs can be up to years.
Describe any numerical limitations and issues Explicit schemes make high resolution runs expensive.

Describe available calibration data sets Separate publications.
Upload calibration data sets if available:
Describe available test data sets ONR test bed and others.
Upload test data sets if available:
Describe ideal data for testing Field data should be used for testing. Lab data has incosistent scaling between gravity and capilary waves.

Do you have current or future plans for collaborating with other researchers? Many present contributors to code. Are considering user groups. WISE has been acting as informal in person only user group.
Is there a manual available? Yes
Upload manual if available:
Model website if any
Model forum / discussion board
Comments We have moved to an open development paradigm using GitHub, which means users and developers are no longer required to submit requests for usernames and passwords to access our software package.

This part will be filled out by CSDMS staff

OpenMI compliant No but possible
BMI compliant No but possible
WMT component No but possible
PyMT component No but possible
Is this a data component
Can be coupled with:
Model info
Hendrik Tolman


WAVEWATCH III® is a community wave modeling framework that includes the latest scientific advancements in the field of wind-wave modeling and dynamics.

The core of the framework consists of the WAVEWATCH III® third-generation wave model (WAVE-height, WATer depth and Current Hindcasting), developed at NOAA/NCEP in the spirit of the WAM model (WAMDIG 1988, Komen et al, 1994), which evolved from WAVEWATCH (Delft: Tolman 1989, 1991a), and WAVEWATCH II (NASA Goddard: Tolman, 1992). WAVEWATCH III® differs from its predecessors in many important points such as governing equations, model structure, numerical methods and physical parameterizations.

WAVEWATCH III® solves the random phase spectral action density balance equation for wavenumber-direction spectra. The implicit assumption of this equation is that properties of medium (water depth and current) as well as the wave field itself vary on time and space scales that are much larger than the variation scales of a single wave. The model includes options for shallow-water (surf zone) applications, as well as wetting and drying of grid points. Propagation of a wave spectrum can be solved using regular (rectilinear or curvilinear) and unstructured (triangular) grids.



Nr. of publications: 791
Total citations: 15275
h-index: 60
m-quotient: 1.71

Featured publication(s)YearModel describedType of ReferenceCitations
Tolman, Hendrik L.; 1991. A Third-Generation Model for Wind Waves on Slowly Varying, Unsteady, and Inhomogeneous Depths and Currents. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 21, 782–797. 10.1175/1520-0485(1991)0212.0.CO;2
(View/edit entry)
Model overview 570
Tolman, H. L.; Accensi, Mickael; et al. 2014. User manual and system documentation of WAVEWATCH III R version 4.18. NOAA / NWS / NCEP / OMB Technical Note 151.
(View/edit entry)

Model overview

See more publications of WAVEWATCH III ^TM



Input Files

Output Files