Earth Institute Research Projects

Integration of Horizontal Unstructured Mesh Generation Code (JIGSAW) into MPAS-O and MPAS-SI

Lead PI: Darren Engwirda

Unit Affiliation: Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR)

October 2018 - July 2021
Global ; New York City, NY ; New York ; Los Alamos, NM
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Planetary climate processes span multiple scales in space and time, with a rich array of complex, small-scale features embedded in the macroscopic dynamics of atmospheric, oceanic and land-based systems. Representing such processes is a challenge in conventional Earth system models, which typically approximate physical processes using "fixed-resolution" computational grids. In this work, the use of "variable-resolution" models are explored; employing unstructured meshes and advanced numerical methods to simulate planetary dynamics at multiple scales of interest. This work is carried out in collaboration with scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory using the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS).

Pictured above: A variable resolution Voronoi-type unstructured mesh, with high resolution clustered on the Antarctic shelf.

OUTCOMES: - To explore the benefits of variable resolution approaches for the simulation of planetary climate processes. Various multi-resolution model configurations will be designed to resolve small-scale features in areas of interest. Such work is expected to improve the representation of ocean physics in the coastal zone, in regions of high eddy intensity, and at high latitudes.

- To enhance the performance of the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS), through use of the unstructured meshing software JIGSAW.

MPAS + JIGSAW are available here:;


Los Alamos National Laboratory


Department of Energy




D. Engwirda: Generalised primal-dual grids for unstructured co-volume schemes, J. Comp. Phys., 375, pp. 155-176,, 2018.

D. Engwirda: JIGSAW-GEO (1.0): locally orthogonal staggered unstructured grid generation for general circulation modelling on the sphere, Geosci. Model Dev., 10, pp. 2117-2140,, 2017.


earth system modeling jigsaw unstructured mesh generation mpas numerical simulation


Earth fundamentals