Selfe Home Models Simulations Forecast Benchmarks Data Sources

ELCIRC is an unstructured-grid model designed for the effective simulation of 3D baroclinic circulation across river-to-ocean scales. It uses a finite-volume/finite-difference Eulerian-Lagrangian algorithm to solve the shallow water equations, written to realistically address a wide range of physical processes and of atmospheric, ocean and river forcings. The numerical algorithm is low-order, but volume conservative, stable and computationally efficient. It also naturally incorporates wetting and drying of tidal flats. While originally developed to meet specific modeling challenges for the Columbia River, ELCIRC has been extensively tested against standard ocean/coastal benchmarks, and is starting to be applied to estuaries and continental shelves around the world.

Several papers describing ELCIRC and its early applications are currently submitted or in preparation. References or links to electronic versions of these papers will be available here, as papers get accepted.

  • Zhang, Y.-L., Baptista, A.M. and Myers, E.P. (2004) "A cross-scale model for 3D baroclinic circulation in estuary-plume-shelf systems: I. Formulation and skill assessment". Cont. Shelf Res. 24: 2187-2214. pdf
  • Baptista, A.M., Zhang, Y.-L., Chawla, A., Zulauf, M.A., Seaton, C., Myers, E.P., Kindle, J., Wilkin, M., Burla, M. and Turner, P.J. 2005 "A cross-scale model for 3D baroclinic circulation in estuary-plume-shelf systems: II. Application to the Columbia River". Continental Shelf Research, 25, 935-972. pdf

New announcement! Third ELCIRC/SELFE users group meeting to take place on Nov. 04, 2007 at Newport, RI (ECM10 site). Please email us if you plan to attend.
Second ELCIRC/SELFE users group meeting took place on Nov. 2-3, 2005 at Charleston, SC.
First ELCIRC users group meeting took place on June 28-29 2004.

ELCIRC users mailing list
To communicate with other users and support team, first you need to subscribe to the mailing list. You can do so by e-mailing to, with a simple message in the body of the text:

subscribe selfe

and then follow instructions from there on. Note that otherwise your message would be treated as spam. To unsubsrcibe to the mailing list, type the following message in the body of the text:

unsubscribe selfe

The messages are archived at the mailing list archive site , where you can search for useful tips.Getting Help We maintain a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list, which is the first line of help available to users. The entire ELCIRC users community can be contacted through Please note that we as core development and support team have only limited resources to support users, and we cannot commit to addressing all questions or requests. Getting Started We recommend that you follow the steps outlined below:
  1. Download and compile the source code and companion software. Recommended companion software (grid generation, visualization) should maximize data exchange capability - but other packages may be used with appropriate format conversions. ELCIRC has been run on a limited number of software and hardware environments. Report compilation problems not previously reported in the FAQ broadly to, as the ELCIRC core development team may not always be your best resource.
  2. Run one or more of the reference benchmarks for which input files are available, and visualize outputs. This will particularly test your software installation, and the compatibility between ELCIRC and your visualization software. Report problems not previously reported in the FAQ to, as appropriate.
  3. For one or more benchmarks, create a new horizontal grid and adjust the input files accordingly. This will test compatibility between ELCIRC and your grid generation software. Report problems not previously reported in the FAQ to, as appropriate.
  4. Set up your own application, following the user manual to prepare input files. Step-by-step guidelines are available in the FAQ. Report problems not previously reported in the FAQ to, as appropriate.
Downloading software
We recommend that you download both ELCIRC and compatible pre- and post-processor software. Please read step-by-step guidelines for setting up an ELCIRC run, before deciding the full software set that you need to download. The following software is available:
  1. ELCIRC Description: 3D baroclinic circulation model
    Most recent version: 5.4c
    Date of release: June 2007
    Source code
    User manual
    Version history: 01c, 02g, 02g2,02r
  2. Code to read output binary files (included in the package)
  3. Drogues (particle tracking code) (included in the package)
  4. Matlab scripts for reading outputs
  5. MPI version of 5.01.02g

ELCIRC Quick Links Download sorftware

AGrid - Grid Optimization Tool



Subscribe to ELCIRC users mailing list

Mailing list archive

Technical support

Known bugs and fixes

Input/output descriptions



ELCIRC/SELFE Publications

Journal papers