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Journal Articles Geoscientific Model Development Year : 2019

FVM 1.0: a nonhydrostatic finite-volume dynamical core for the IFS

Christian Kühnlein
  • Function : Author
Willem Deconinck
  • Function : Author
Rupert Klein
  • Function : Author
Zbigniew P. Piotrowski
  • Function : Author
Piotr K. Smolarkiewicz
  • Function : Author
Joanna Szmelter
  • Function : Author
Nils P. Wedi
  • Function : Author


We present a nonhydrostatic finite-volume global atmospheric model formulation for numerical weather prediction with the Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) at ECMWF and compare it to the established operational spectral-transform formulation. The novel Finite-Volume Module of the IFS (henceforth IFS-FVM) integrates the fully compressible equations using semi-implicit time stepping and non-oscillatory forward-in-time (NFT) Eulerian advection, whereas the spectral-transform IFS solves the hydrostatic primitive equations (optionally the fully compressible equations) using a semi-implicit semi-Lagrangian scheme. The IFS-FVM complements the spectral-transform counterpart by means of the finite-volume discretization with a local low-volume communication footprint, fully conservative and monotone advective transport, all-scale deep-atmosphere fully compressible equations in a generalized height-based vertical coordinate, and flexible horizontal meshes. Nevertheless, both the finite-volume and spectral-transform formulations can share the same quasi-uniform horizontal grid with co-located arrangement of variables, geospherical longitude-latitude coordinates, and physics parameterizations, thereby facilitating their comparison, coexistence, and combination in the IFS.

We highlight the advanced semi-implicit NFT finite-volume integration of the fully compressible equations of IFS-FVM considering comprehensive moist-precipitating dynamics with coupling to the IFS cloud parameterization by means of a generic interface. These developments - including a new horizontal-vertical split NFT MPDATA advective transport scheme, variable time stepping, effective preconditioning of the elliptic Helmholtz solver in the semi-implicit scheme, and a computationally efficient implementation of the median-dual finite-volume approach - provide a basis for the efficacy of IFS-FVM and its application in global numerical weather prediction. Here, numerical experiments focus on relevant dry and moist-precipitating baroclinic instability at various resolutions. We show that the presented semi-implicit NFT finite-volume integration scheme on co-located meshes of IFS-FVM can provide highly competitive solution quality and computational performance to the proven semi-implicit semi-Lagrangian integration scheme of the spectral-transform IFS.

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Dates and versions

insu-03665044 , version 1 (11-05-2022)





Christian Kühnlein, Willem Deconinck, Rupert Klein, Sylvie Malardel, Zbigniew P. Piotrowski, et al.. FVM 1.0: a nonhydrostatic finite-volume dynamical core for the IFS. Geoscientific Model Development, 2019, 12, pp.651-676. ⟨10.5194/gmd-12-651-2019⟩. ⟨insu-03665044⟩
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