Salish Sea Modeling Center

The Salish Sea Modeling Center was established at the Center for Urban Waters, University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) in 2020 to advance the use of hydrodynamic models for understanding the Salish Sea ecosystem. The center will initially focus on expanding the capabilities of the Salish Sea Model, an advanced computer simulator developed over the past decade. The Salish Sea Model accurately describes how water, sediments, and nutrients enter and cycle through the Salish Sea, and is widely used by resource and regulatory agencies in the region. The model was developed by Dr. Tarang Khangaonkar and his team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

Mission & Vision

Animated .gif of surface layer transport in the Northwest Straits
Surface layer transport in the Northwest Straits. Image: PNNL

Vision: The Salish Sea Modeling Center (SSMC) is a computational platform for the Salish Sea community of scientists and engineers engaged in basin-wide water quality protection and ecosystem restoration efforts.

Our vision of complex hydrology, hydrodynamic, water quality, and ecosystem models on a single platform is realized by eliminating the challenges associated with computational power and storage, access to established regional models and associated analytical software, and availability of skilled modelers for research and development support.

Mission: SSMC will provide access and use of Salish Sea basin-wide models of hydrology, hydrodynamics, circulation, transport, water quality, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem (food web) to our community for a wide variety of marine environmental applications.

SSMC’s broad mission is to foster research and development using Salish Sea basin-wide state-of the-art comprehensive aquatic fate and transport models. SSMC was established with a focus on supporting researchers from various state and federal agencies engaged in efforts related to ecosystem management and restoration of the Salish Sea. These include assessing impacts from issues such as population growth, increasing nutrient loads, watershed runoff and pollution, and shoreline development that require hydrodynamic and water quality information.

SSMC computational space is located on the UW Hyak Next Generation Supercomputer, established through a grant from the City of Tacoma. Initial hardware consists of 1000 cores and 120 TB of storage for use by SSMC developers. SSMC expects to add computational core capacity and storage based on demand and usage. Photo: UW-IT

Our short-term goal is to make the Salish Sea Model (SSM) and previously computed solutions available over the shared SSMC space on the University of Washington HYAK supercomputer. The SSMC will provide model development and data analysis support to facilitate the use of available computational resources, models, and software. SSMC scientists are also available to participate in interdisciplinary research on grants and projects as Co-PIs.

In addition to the SSM, the center will also work with other organizations to combine information from computer simulations such as NOAA’s Atlantis food web model and EPA’s VELMA watershed model.

Research & Collaboration

The Salish Sea Modeling Center will conduct numerous applications of this model on behalf of our collaborating partners to assist with nearshore habitat restoration planning and design, analysis in support of re-establishment of fish migration pathways, and assessment of basin-wide water quality impacts.

Use of SSMC resources may be arranged by entering into a contractual arrangement with SSMC at the UWT in the form of (a) an Interagency agreement with UWT, or (b) a Time and Materials contract with UWT. Through these mechanisms, clients may arrange for the use of SSMC at four different levels:

  •  Reserved use of SSMC computational core-hours and storage space
  •  Technical support with the installation of proprietary software requested by the client or with the use of SSMC models and software
  •  Training and technical support with the use of Salish Sea Model and post processing of stored solutions
  •  Contract with SSMC to conduct a research and development for a client funded project.

Meet the SSMC team.


Tarang Khangaonkar
Director, Salish Sea Modeling Center | 206 612 1598