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Reed M. Maxwell
Simulation Platforms

ParFlow is an open-source, object-oriented, parallel watershed flow model. It includes fully-integrated overland flow, the ability to simulate complex topography, geology and heterogeneity and coupled land-surface processes including the land-energy budget, biogeochemistry and snow (via CLM). It is multi-platform and runs with a common I/O structure from laptop to supercomputer. ParFlow is the result of a long, multi-institutional development history and is now a collaborative effort between CSM, F-Z Jülich, UniBonn, LLNL, WSU, LBL, and LTHE. ParFlow has been coupled to the mesoscale, meteorological code ARPS, the NCAR code WRF and the German Weather Service model COSMO.

ParFlow Web Page

ParFlow Blog

To get started with ParFlow, I would recommend the manual. It contains lots of useful information on getting started, a complete table of published studies that have used ParFlow for a range of applications, some very helpful annotated examples to get new users started and a complete library of the keys for running simulations and tools for postprocessing output. If you are building a model of a real domain there are helpful blogposts on a workflow for setting up and spinning up models on the ParFlow Blog. Also the blog contains posts on trouble shooting slow model performance and common errors when starting a simulation that will be useful to new users. Finally, the blog contains a lot of useful advice on getting ParFlow compiled on many different platforms.

A complete publication list for all ParFlow references now appears in the manual. However, good publications related to the development of ParFlow are AF1996, JW2001, MM2005, KM2006, KM2008, MK2008a, M2013; a publication related to ParFlow coupled to ARPS (PF.ARPS) is MCK2007 a publication related to PF-WRF is MLMSWT2011 and ParFlow coupled to COSMO SMSKS14.

ParFlow Version 3.3.1

ParFlow is released under the GNU LPGL license agreement.

ParFlow is now on GitHub. The current release is linked below, we recommend starting there. The project may be accessed here.

ParFlow v3.3.1 User's Manual January 2018

The best resource for ParFlow questions is the user's email list. This is an active, searchable listserve with a large user base. To report bugs or request features, please use the ParFlow Issue Tracker on GitHub. Please note that ParFlow is an unsupported research code and while we will attempt to answer questions posted to this list, there is no guarantee that there will be any reply. Before emailing this list, please make sure you first refer to the manual, the blog and join the user's email list. Please include as much relevant information as possible, including the version number being used. For compile and runtime problems, please also include the machine type, operating system, MPI implementation, compiler, and any error messages produced. Developers who want to be added to the repository development group should contact us to follow best software productivity practices on GitHub.

If you are using ParFlow, please let me know, I try to keep a list of active users. If you use ParFlow in a publication, please cite the these papers that describe model physics:
Ashby S.F. and R.D. Falgout, Nuclear Science and Engineering 124:145-159, 1996
Jones, J.E. and C.S. Woodward, Advances in Water Resources 24:763-774, 2001
Kollet, S.J. and R.M. Maxwell, Advances in Water Resources 29:945-958, 2006
Maxwell, R.M. Advances in Water Resources 53:109-117, 2013

If you use ParFlow coupled to CLM in a publication, please also cite two additional papers that describe the coupled model physics:
Maxwell, R.M. and N.L. Miller, Journal of Hydrometeorology 6(3):233-247, 2005
Kollet, S.J. and R.M. Maxwell, Water Resources Research 44:W02402, 2008

The following papers may be useful as they detail many of the processes we include for ET in our version of CLM:

Jefferson, J.L., Maxwell, R.M. and Constantine, P.G. Exploring the sensitivity of photosynthesis and stomatal resistance parameters in a land surface model. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 18(3):897-915, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-16-0053.1, 2017.
Ferguson, I.M., Jefferson, J.L., Maxwell, R.M. and Kollet, S.J. Effects of Root Water Uptake Formulation on Simulated Water and Energy Budgets at Local and Basin Scales. Environmental Earth Sciences, 75:316, doi:10.1007/s12665-015-5041-z, 2016.
Jefferson, J.L., Gilbert, J.M., Constantine, P.G. and Maxwell, R.M. Active subspaces for sensitivity analysis and dimension reduction of an integrated hydrologic model. Computers and Geosciences, 83, 127-138, doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2015.07.001, 2015.
Jefferson, J.L. and Maxwell, R.M. Evaluation of simple to complex parameterizations of bare ground evaporation. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 7, 1-15, doi:10.1002/2014MS000398, 2015.

EcoSLIM is a Lagrangian, particle-tracking model for simulating subsurface , diagnosing transport, ravel times, paths etc, and integrates seamlessly with ParFlow.


Maxwell, R.M., Condon, L.E., Danesh-Yazdi, M. and Bearup, L.A. Exploring source water mixing and transient residence time distributions of outflow and evapotranspiration with an integrated hydrologic model and Lagrangian particle tracking approach. Ecohydrology doi:10.1002/eco.2042, 2018.
Danesh-Yazdi, M., Klaus, J., Condon, L.E., and Maxwell, R.M. Bridging the gap between numerical solutions of travel time distributions and analytical storage selection functions. Hydrological Processes, doi:10.1002/hyp.11481, 2018.
Bearup, L.A., Maxwell, R.M. and McCray, J.E. Hillslope response to insect-induced land-cover change: an integrated model of end-member mixing. Ecohydrology, doi:10.1002/eco.1729, 2016.
Maxwell, R.M., Condon, L.E., Kollet, S.J., Maher, K., Haggerty, R., and Forrester, M.M. The imprint of climate and geology on the residence times of groundwater. Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2015GL066916, 2016.

A video overview of EcoSLIM:

For further examples of ParFlow and SLIM working together, please see MWH2007, this example from MCT2008, KM2008, SSMM2012, SM2012a, SM2012b, AMS2013, dRGM2013 and CWM2014.

For more information please contact me by email.

Colorado School of Mines Geology and Geological Engineering
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Last Modified: December 23, 2019