Particles in the Coastal Ocean: Theory and Application

Archive pointing to code, drifter data, model output, and animations

(D. Lynch, D. Greenberg, A. Bigili, D. McGillicuddy, J. Manning, A. Aretxabaleta)

See here for a new and improved website.

While developing the book "Particles in the Coastal Ocean: Theory and Application" (Cambridge University Press, 2014), the authors considered the inclusion of a set of documents, code and applications to illustrate the use of particle tracking. Originally designed as a potential appendix to the book, it was decided to provide it in a more flexible and evolving format to allow code development and the inclusion of dynamic examples such as animations. Since the field is in such a state of flux, the list of particle tracking codes and examples could be updated at regular intervals (e.g., near-annual frequency) as new sources and information is developed. The list presented is not meant to be exhaustive but just a set of "examples" we are familiar with. Edits and extensions can be emailed to

Our Community Particle Tracking Code Repository

An electronic archive contains particle tracking codes currently in development and in use in several coastal environments. It is therefore both an archive to support current research as well as an archive of computational products that has been used in published research projects. In all cases the code is provided for experimentation with the caveat that there is still work to be done. The code archive resides in a GitHub account (a web-based hosting service for software development that uses the Git revision control system). The GitHub account is: In the repository, we include: In the future, we hope to add to this collection along with relevant animations.

Other Particle Tracking Code Repositories

Alternatively, there are other implementations of particle tracking algorithms available in the coastal oceanographic community. We provide a list of algorithms that is not meant to be complete. We separate the algorithms into two categories: 1) code run offline using available model results and 2) web-based particle tracking that does not require any execution by the user (point and click). Many of the web-based routines are now being shared and applied in multiple regions of the globe.

Example Distributed Drifter Data and Model Output

There are many places that one can now access both observed drifter tracks and modeled output. Given the standards implemented in the last few years by the US Integrated Ocean Observing System, for example, one can easily access these datasets stored in THREDDS/OPENDAP and SOS formats at nearly all the regional websites. There are also codes developed in multiple languages such as MATLAB and PYTHON where the user can query the remote datasets (as demonstrated in the Github code mentioned earlier) from within their own programming environment. So, rather than point-and-clicking through websites to obtained the desired data, the code can access it directly. We list now a few sites to find various drifter data and model output as well as pointers to the code mentioned above. Again, these lists are growing too rapidly to be comprehensive but it provides at least a few sites that are active at the time of this writing.

Example utilities to access remotely served data and model output

There are a variety of ways to access remote data from within your code without having to point and click through websites and download files. These utilities provide powerful method to query various web-served databases in order to extract particular portions of the data.

Example animations of simulated particle tracks

Example animations of actual drifter tracks