Run the Reference configurations

NEMO is distributed with a set of reference configurations allowing both the user to set up his own first applications and the developer to test/validate his NEMO developments (using SETTE package).


Concerning the configurations, the NEMO System Team is only in charge of the so-called reference configurations described below.


Configurations developed by external research projects or initiatives that make use of NEMO are welcome to be publicized through the website by filling up the form to add an associated project.

How to compile an experiment from a reference configuration

To compile the ORCA2_ICE_PISCES reference configuration using makenemo, one should use the following, by selecting among available architecture file or providing a user defined one:

$ ./makenemo -r 'ORCA2_ICE_PISCES' -m 'my_arch' -j '4'

A new EXP00 folder will be created within the selected reference configurations, namely ./cfgs/ORCA2_ICE_PISCES/EXP00. It will be necessary to uncompress the archives listed in the above table for the given reference configuration that includes input & forcing files.

Then it will be possible to launch the execution of the model through a runscript (opportunely adapted to the user system).

List of Configurations

All forcing files listed below in the table are available from DOI data



Archives (input & forcing files)











AGRIF_DEMO_v4.0.tar, ORCA2_ICE_v4.0.tar





















ORCA2_ICE_v4.0.tar, INPUTS_PISCES_v4.0.tar




ORCA2_OFF_v4.0.tar, INPUTS_PISCES_v4.0.tar






ORCA2_ICE_v4.0.tar, INPUTS_SAS_v4.0.tar





Legend for component combination

O for OCE, S for SI3, T for TOP, P for PISCES and A for AGRIF


AGRIF_DEMO is based on the ORCA2_ICE_PISCES global configuration at 2° of resolution with the inclusion of 3 online nested grids to demonstrate the overall capabilities of AGRIF in a realistic context (including the nesting of sea ice models).

The configuration includes a 1:1 grid in the Pacific and two successively nested grids with odd and even refinement ratios over the Arctic ocean, with the finest grid spanning the whole Svalbard archipelago that is of particular interest to test sea ice coupling.


The 1:1 grid can be used alone as a benchmark to check that the model solution is not corrupted by grid exchanges. Note that since grids interact only at the baroclinic time level, numerically exact results can not be achieved in the 1:1 case. Perfect reproducibility is obtained only by switching to a fully explicit setup instead of a split explicit free surface scheme.


AMM12 stands for Atlantic Margin Model at 12 km that is a regional configuration covering the Northwest European Shelf domain on a regular horizontal grid of ~12 km of resolution (see [C1]).


This configuration allows to tests several features of NEMO specifically addressed to the shelf seas. In particular, AMM12 accounts for vertical s-coordinates system, GLS turbulence scheme, tidal lateral boundary conditions using a flather scheme (see more in BDY). Boundaries may be completely omitted by setting ln_bdy = .false. in nambdy.

Sample surface fluxes, river forcing and an initial restart file are included to test a realistic model run (AMM12_v4.0.tar).

Note that, the Baltic boundary is included within the river input file and is specified as a river source, but unlike ordinary river points the Baltic inputs also include salinity and temperature data.



C1D_PAPA is a 1D configuration for the PAPA station located in the northern-eastern Pacific Ocean at 50.1°N, 144.9°W. See Reffray et al. (2015) for the description of its physical and numerical turbulent-mixing behaviour.

The water column setup, called NEMO1D, is activated with the inclusion of the CPP key key_c1d and has a horizontal domain of 3x3 grid points.
This reference configuration uses 75 vertical levels grid (1m at the surface), GLS turbulence scheme with K-epsilon closure and the NCAR bulk formulae.

Data provided with INPUTS_C1D_PAPA_v4.0.tar file account for:

  • forcing_PAPASTATION_1h_y201[0-1].nc: ECMWF operational analysis atmospheric forcing rescaled to 1h (with long and short waves flux correction) for years 2010 and 2011

  • Initial Conditions from observed data and Levitus 2009 climatology

  • surface chlorophyll file from Seawifs data


GYRE_BFM shares the same physical setup of GYRE_PISCES, but NEMO is coupled with the BFM biogeochemical model as described in ./cfgs/GYRE_BFM/README.


GYRE_PISCES is an idealized configuration representing a Northern hemisphere double gyres system, in the Beta-plane approximation with a regular 1° horizontal resolution and 31 vertical levels, with PISCES BGC model [C2]. Analytical forcing for heat, freshwater and wind-stress fields are applied.

This configuration acts also as demonstrator of the user defined setup (ln_read_cfg = .false.) and grid setting are handled through the &namusr_def controls in namelist_cfg:

&namusr_def    !   GYRE user defined namelist  
   nn_GYRE     =     1     !  GYRE resolution [1/degrees]
   ln_bench    = .false.   !  ! =T benchmark with gyre: the gridsize is kept constant
   jpkglo      =    31     !  number of model levels

Note that, the default grid size is 30x20 grid points (with nn_GYRE = 1) and vertical levels are set by jpkglo. The specific code changes can be inspected in ./src/OCE/USR.

Running GYRE as a benchmark

This simple configuration can be used as a benchmark since it is easy to increase resolution, with the drawback of getting results that have a very limited physical meaning.
GYRE grid resolution can be increased at runtime by setting a different value of nn_GYRE (integer multiplier scaling factor), as described in the following table:





Equivalent to










ORCA 1/2°





ORCA 1/4°





ORCA 1/12°





ORCA 1/16°

Note that, it is necessary to set ln_bench = .true. in &namusr_def to avoid problems in the physics computation and that the model timestep should be adequately rescaled.
For example if nn_GYRE = 150, equivalent to an ORCA 1/12° grid, the timestep rn_rdt should be set to 1200 seconds Differently from previous versions of NEMO, the code uses by default the time-splitting scheme and internally computes the number of sub-steps.


ORCA2_ICE_PISCES is a reference configuration for the global ocean with a 2°x2° curvilinear horizontal mesh and 31 vertical levels, distributed using z-coordinate system and with 10 levels in the top 100m. ORCA is the generic name given to global ocean Mercator mesh, (i.e. variation of meridian scale factor as cosinus of the latitude), with two poles in the northern hemisphere so that the ratio of anisotropy is nearly one everywhere

This configuration uses the three components

  • NEMO-OCE, the ocean dynamical core

  • NEMO-SI3, the thermodynamic-dynamic sea ice model.

  • NEMO-TOP/PISCES, passive tracer transport module and PISCES BGC model [C2]

All components share the same grid. The model is forced with CORE-II normal year atmospheric forcing and it uses the NCAR bulk formulae.

Ocean Physics

horizontal diffusion on momentum

the eddy viscosity coefficient depends on the geographical position. It is taken as 40000 m2/s, reduced in the equator regions (2000 m2/s) excepted near the western boundaries.

isopycnal diffusion on tracers

the diffusion acts along the isopycnal surfaces (neutral surface) with an eddy diffusivity coefficient of 2000 m2/s.

Eddy induced velocity parametrization

With a coefficient that depends on the growth rate of baroclinic instabilities (it usually varies from 15 m2/s to 3000 m2/s).

lateral boundary conditions

Zero fluxes of heat and salt and no-slip conditions are applied through lateral solid boundaries.

bottom boundary condition

Zero fluxes of heat and salt are applied through the ocean bottom. The Beckmann [19XX] simple bottom boundary layer parameterization is applied along continental slopes. A linear friction is applied on momentum.


The vertical eddy viscosity and diffusivity coefficients are increased to 1 m2/s in case of static instability.

time step

is 5400sec (1h30’) so that there is 16 time steps in one day.


ORCA2_OFF_PISCES shares the same general offline configuration of ORCA2_ICE_TRC, but only PISCES model is an active component of TOP.


ORCA2_OFF_TRC is based on the ORCA2 global ocean configuration (see ORCA2_ICE_PISCES for general description) along with the tracer passive transport module (TOP), but dynamical fields are pre-calculated and read with specific time frequency.
This enables for an offline coupling of TOP components, here specifically inorganic carbon compounds (CFC11, CFC12, SF6, C14) and water age module (age). See namelist_top_cfg to inspect the selection of each component with the dedicated logical keys.

Pre-calculated dynamical fields are provided to NEMO using the namelist &namdta_dyn in namelist_cfg, in this case with a 5 days frequency (120 hours):

&namdta_dyn    !   offline ocean input files                            (OFF_SRC only)
   ln_dynrnf       =  .false.    !  runoffs option enabled (T) or not (F)
   ln_dynrnf_depth =  .false.    !  runoffs is spread in vertical (T) or not (F)
!   fwbcorr        = 3.786e-06   !  annual global mean of empmr for ssh correction

   cn_dir      = './'      !  root directory for the ocean data location
   !           !  file name              ! frequency (hours) ! variable  ! time interp.!  clim  ! 'yearly'/ ! weights filename ! rotation ! land/sea mask !
   !           !                         !  (if <0  months)  !   name    !   (logical) !  (T/F) ! 'monthly' !                  ! pairing  !    filename   !
   sn_tem      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'votemper'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_sal      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'vosaline'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_mld      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'somixhgt'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_emp      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'sowaflup'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_fmf      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'iowaflup'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_ice      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'soicecov'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_qsr      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'soshfldo'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_wnd      = 'dyna_grid_T'           ,       120.        , 'sowindsp'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_uwd      = 'dyna_grid_U'           ,       120.        , 'uocetr_eff',  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_vwd      = 'dyna_grid_V'           ,       120.        , 'vocetr_eff',  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_wwd      = 'dyna_grid_W'           ,       120.        , 'wocetr_eff',  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_avt      = 'dyna_grid_W'           ,       120.        , 'voddmavs'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_ubl      = 'dyna_grid_U'           ,       120.        , 'sobblcox'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''
   sn_vbl      = 'dyna_grid_V'           ,       120.        , 'sobblcoy'  ,  .true.   , .true. , 'yearly'  , ''               , ''       , ''

Input dynamical fields for this configuration (ORCA2_OFF_v4.0.tar) comes from a 2000 years long climatological simulation of ORCA2_ICE using ERA40 atmospheric forcing.

Note that, this configuration default uses linear free surface (ln_linssh = .true.) assuming that model mesh is not varying in time and it includes the bottom boundary layer parameterization (ln_trabbl = .true.) that requires the provision of BBL coefficients through sn_ubl and sn_vbl fields.
It is also possible to activate PISCES model (see ORCA2_OFF_PISCES) or a user defined set of tracers and source-sink terms with ln_my_trc = .true. (and adaptation of ./src/TOP/MY_TRC routines).

In addition, the offline module (OFF) allows for the provision of further fields:

  1. River runoff can be provided to TOP components by setting ln_dynrnf = .true. and by including an input datastream similarly to the following:

    sn_rnf  = 'dyna_grid_T', 120, 'sorunoff' , .true., .true., 'yearly', '', '', ''
  2. VVL dynamical fields, in the case input data were produced by a dyamical core using variable volume (ln_linssh = .false.) it is necessary to provide also diverce and E-P at before timestep by including input datastreams similarly to the following

    sn_div  = 'dyna_grid_T', 120, 'e3t'      , .true., .true., 'yearly', '', '', ''
    sn_empb = 'dyna_grid_T', 120, 'sowaflupb', .true., .true., 'yearly', '', '', ''

More details can be found by inspecting the offline data manager in the routine ./src/OFF/dtadyn.F90.


ORCA2_SAS_ICE is a demonstrator of the Stand-Alone Surface (SAS) module and it relies on ORCA2 global ocean configuration (see ORCA2_ICE_PISCES for general description).
The standalone surface module allows surface elements such as sea-ice, iceberg drift, and surface fluxes to be run using prescribed model state fields. It can profitably be used to compare different bulk formulae or adjust the parameters of a given bulk formula.

More informations about SAS can be found in NEMO manual.


SPITZ12 is a regional configuration around the Svalbard archipelago at 1/12° of horizontal resolution and 75 vertical levels. See Rousset et al. (2015) for more details.

This configuration references to year 2002, with atmospheric forcing provided every 2 hours using NCAR bulk formulae, while lateral boundary conditions for dynamical fields have 3 days time frequency.



E J O’Dea, A K Arnold, K P Edwards, R Furner, P Hyder, M J Martin, J R Siddorn, D Storkey, J While, J T Holt, and H Liu. An operational ocean forecast system incorporating nemo and sst data assimilation for the tidally driven european north-west shelf. Journal of Operational Oceanography, 5(1):3–17, 2012. URL:, arXiv:, doi:10.1080/1755876X.2012.11020128.


O. Aumont, C. Ethé, A. Tagliabue, L. Bopp, and M. Gehlen. Pisces-v2: an ocean biogeochemical model for carbon and ecosystem studies. Geoscientific Model Development, 8(8):2465–2513, 2015. URL:, doi:10.5194/gmd-8-2465-2015.