Salish Sea Modeling Center

The Salish Sea Modeling Center was established at the Puget Sound Institute in June 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). The center is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and other regional water quality partners. Read an announcement about the center.

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.

About the Salish Sea Model

The Salish Sea Model (SSM) is a predictive coastal ocean model for estuarine research, restoration planning, water-quality management, as well as assessments of marine pollution, oil spill and sediment transport and climate change response. In addition to assessments of impacts from watershed runoff and wastewater discharges, the SSM is currently being utilized for the analysis of Salish Sea response to sea level rise, climate change, and propagation of global ocean acidification into the inner estuarine environment.

A map image showing the range of the Salish Sea Model. Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The range of the Salish Sea Model extends beyond the boundaries of the Salish Sea to include influences from coastal hydrodynamics. Map: PNNL

Researchers from various state and federal agencies engaged in efforts related to ecosystem management and restoration of the Salish Sea are assessing issues such as population growth, increasing nutrient loads, watershed runoff and pollution, and shoreline development that require hydrodynamic and water quality information.

The Salish Sea Model (SSM) of circulation and water quality will be followed by similar efforts to work collaboratively with established hydrology and food-web modeling groups in the future. The SSM is the receiving water model that connects to hydrology at the pour points and provides initial conditions at the lowest trophic levels for use by ecosystem and food-web models for predictive applications. The model also provides the ability to conduct analysis of effluent dilution, transport, and flushing from wastewater and stormwater sources.

Hyak Next Generation Supercomputer
SSMC computational space is located on University of Washington Hyak Next Generation Supercomputer, established through a grant from the City of Tacoma to PSI. Initial hardware consists of 520 cores and 50 TB of storage for use by SSMC developers. SSMC expects to add more computational core capacity and storage based on demand and usage. Photo: UW-IT

Our short-term goal is to make 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 Salish Sea Model, the center will also work with other organizations to combine information from computer simulations such as NOAA’s Atlantis food web model, EPA’s VELMA watershed model, or the University of Washington’s LiveOcean model which addresses water flow into the Salish Sea through the California Current.

More details about the Salish Sea Model and its history are available at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory website.


The Salish Sea Modeling Center modeling team 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

How to collaborate with us:

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

  •  Cost associated with 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.


Tarang Khangaonkar
Director, Salish Sea Modeling Center


Tarang Khangaonkar, Director, Salish Sea Modeling Center
Stefano Mazzilli, Research Scientist, Puget Sound Institute
Adi Nugraha, Research Scientist, Coastal Modeling
Lakshitha Premathilake, Research Scientist, Coastal Modeling
Sukyong Yun, Project Intern


University of WashingtonCity of Tacoma
United States Environmental Protection AgencyPuget Sound Partnership