GMS Software

SMS - surface-water modeling system - hydrodynamic model

SMS - Surface-Water Modeling System Description

Announcing SMS Version 8.0 Release!

User Interface

SMS Overview

SMS - Surface-Water Modeling System is a comprehensive environment for 1D, 2D, and 3D hydrodynamic modeling. It is a pre- and post-processor for surface water modeling and design. SMS includes 2D finite-element, 2D finite-difference, 3D finite-element and 1D backwater modeling tools. Supported models include the USACE-WES supported TABS-MD (GFGEN, RMA2, RMA4, SED2D-WES), ADCIRC, CGWAVE, STWAVE, M2D, HIVEL2D, and HEC-RAS models. Comprehensive interfaces have also been developed for facilitating the use of the FHWA commissioned analysis packages FESWMS and Bri-Stars. SMS also includes a generic model interface that can be used to support models which have not been officially incorporated into the system.

The numeric models supported in SMS compute a variety of information applicable to surface-water modeling. Primary applications of the models include calculation of water surface elevations and flow velocities for shallow water flow problems for both steady-state or dynamic conditions. Additional applications include the modeling of contaminant migration, salinity intrusion, sediment transport (scour and deposition), wave energy dispersion, wave properties (directions, magnitudes and amplitudes) and others.

Graphical User Interface

Thanks to the graphical tools of SMS, with standard MS Windows functionality, building models and viewing results is very easy and intuitive. All modeling parameters are entered through interactive graphics and easy-to-use dialog boxes. The software is well-suited for the construction of large, complex meshes (several thousand elements) of arbitrary shape. A finite-element mesh of a simple region can be constructed within a few minutes. Meshes of more complex regions that normally would take days or weeks to construct manually can be constructed within a few hours. Mesh generation errors are easily detected during mesh construction and can be corrected within minutes. Existing digital elevation models can be imported and used as background data to generate elevations for the model.

Graphics and Visualization

SMS is a powerful graphical tool for model creation and visualization of results. Models can be built using digital maps and elevation models for reference and source data. During the model building process, the graphical representation of the model allows quick review and presentation of your work. Fully 3D views with contouring and shading of your model allow anyone to see and understand the domain and parameters of your analysis.

Analysis results from any of the models in SMS can be output or displayed graphically using a variety of plots including vector plots, contour plots, color-shaded contour plots and time-history plots. Contour plots and color-shaded contour plots of water surface elevation, velocity, discharge, contaminant concentration, and bed scour and deposition can easily be generated for any of the computed time-steps. Time-history plots can be requested at any location to illustrate fluctuations in water surface elevation, velocity, discharge, contaminant concentration and bed elevation. A data set calculator is provided, allowing the user to perform comparisons between analysis models such as displaying the difference in water surface elevations and flow velocities due to a change in the operation of a flood gate.

Both steady-state and transient solutions can be shown animated (as if viewing a movie) using either particle trace, vector or contour animation. For steady-state solutions, particle trace animation allows the user to clearly see the inherent flow patterns in the mesh (see image below). For transient solutions, vector and contour animation allows the user to observe how water surface elevation, velocity, discharge, contaminant concentration, and bed elevation vary with time (see below).

Flow Trace Animation


Transient Model Animation

SMS Modules

The SMS interface is separated into several modules; these modules contain tools that allow manipulation and model creation from different data types.

The modules of SMS are:

Map Module

The Map Module in SMS allows you to use GIS or CAD data as well as TIFF or JPEG image data to create and enhance visualization of your surface-water models.

Images (such as USGS quad maps or aerial photographs) can be used in SMS as a reference for digitizing features in your model or as a backdrop to enhance model presentation. With GIS or CAD data, or data you have digitized yourself in SMS, you can assign parameters and boundary conditions to your model in a quick and intuitive manner. SMS will automatically generate a mesh or grid network and assign parameters/boundary conditions from your Map Module data. This greatly reduces the time and effort required for model building allowing you to focus on analysis and calibration with your model.

The Map Module also allows you to set up observation points and cross sections where results from a numerical model can be compared to data collected in the real world. Further, reports and statistical analysis can be generated from these observation/calibration tools.

Mesh Module

The Mesh Module is used to construct 2D finite-element meshes of rivers, estuaries, bays, wetland areas or coastal regions. SMS includes a sophisticated set of mesh generation and editing tools to handle complex modeling situations. In SMS, 2D meshes are used as the basis for analysis for:

  • TABS (RMA2, RMA4, SED2D)
  • HIVEL-2D - supercritical flow model
  • FESWMS - FHWA commissioned hydrodynamic model
  • ADCIRC - coastal circulation model
  • CGWAVE - wave energy model

After an analysis, output data at each node of the mesh can be used to generate contour, fringe and vector plots to represent the solution. Multiple time steps from time variant solutions can be strung together to form an animation of the dynamic solution. SMS also generates animations of steady-state vector functions such as flow velocity.

Cartesian Grid Module

The 2D Cartesian Grid Module contains tools used to construct 2D Cartesian finite-difference grids. These grids consist of cells aligned with a rectilinear coordinate system. The tools provide a fast, efficient method for creating such grids, populating them with data and running a numerical model. The models that are supported in the Cartesian Grid Module are:

  • STWAVE - wave energy model
  • M2D - hydrodynamic circulation specifically adapted for coastal zones

Analysis results from these model can be displayed using the tools in the Cartesian Grid Module to create contour, fringe and vector plots to represent the solution. Multiple time steps from time variant solutions can be strung together to form an animation of the dynamic solutions as well.

Boundary Fitted Grid Module

The Boundary Fitted Grid Module is used for pre- and post- processing of 2D and 3D extracted boundary fitted grids. These grids consist of rows and columns of cells. Unlike Cartesian Grids, the cells in boundary fitted grids can have any quadrilateral shape and therefore are not necessarily aligned with the x/y cartesian directions. Because of this, the grid better fits the boundary of the model domain. In SMS, the Boundary Fitted Grid Module is used to create simulations for use with CH3D and ICM.

Scatter Point Module

The Scatter Point Module is used to interpolate from groups of scattered data points to the other data types (i.e., meshes and grids). SMS supports three interpolation schemes including linear, natural neighbor and inverse distance weighted. The module is also used to view and edit survey data (i.e., SHOALS data).

Interpolation can be used to provide initial conditions, compare the results of overlapping meshes or to verify a solution. This capability in SMS allows scattered data to be applied to any mesh or grid that has been constructed for modeling in SMS.

1D Hydraulics Module

The 1D Hydraulics Module of SMS includes a series of tools for the creation, editing, and application of cross sections for one-dimensional hydraulic analysis. Capabilities include:

  • Extraction of cross sections and attributes such as roughness and bank features from three-dimensional topographic and bathymetric data.
  • Merging of low resolution cross sections with high resolution survey data.
  • Filtering cross-section data for efficiency.
  • Formatting of cross section and hydraulic data for specific one-dimensional analysis engines including Bri-Stars and HEC-RAS.


SMS supports the following numerical modeling engines; each has a full-featured, intuitive interface to model input and output. Click on a model name to find out more information on it:

SMS Requirements

Windows: Pentium running Microsoft Windows 95/98/2000/NT, math coprocessor, and 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended). UNIX X-Windows: HP-UX, IRIX, DEC-OSF, and Sun Solaris.

Take a Quick Tour of SMS V 8.0



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