Adjoint Methods for Guiding Adaptive Mesh Refinement in Tsunami Modeling

  • B. N. DavisEmail author
  • R. J. LeVeque
Part of the Pageoph Topical Volumes book series (PTV)


One difficulty in developing numerical methods for tsunami modeling is the fact that solutions contain time-varying regions where much higher resolution is required than elsewhere in the domain, particularly when tracking a tsunami propagating across the ocean. The open source GeoClaw software deals with this issue by using block-structured adaptive mesh refinement to selectively refine around propagating waves. For problems where only a target area of the total solution is of interest (e.g., one coastal community), a method that allows identifying and refining the grid only in regions that influence this target area would significantly reduce the computational cost of finding a solution. In this work, we show that solving the time-dependent adjoint equation and using a suitable inner product with the forward solution allows more precise refinement of the relevant waves. We present the adjoint methodology first in one space dimension for illustration and in a broad context since it could also be used in other adaptive software, and potentially for other tsunami applications beyond adaptive refinement. We then show how this adjoint method has been integrated into the adaptive mesh refinement strategy of the open source GeoClaw software and present tsunami modeling results showing that the accuracy of the solution is maintained and the computational time required is significantly reduced through the integration of the adjoint method into adaptive mesh refinement.


Adjoint problem hyperbolic equations adaptive mesh refinement Clawpack GeoClaw finite volume 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied MathematicsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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