Technical Note: The Modular Earth Submodel System (MESSy) - a new approach towards Earth System Modeling
Abstract. The development of a comprehensive Earth System Model (ESM) to study the interactions between chemical, physical, and biological processes, requires coupling of the different domains (land, ocean, atmosphere, ...). One strategy is to link existing domain-specific models with a universal coupler, i.e. an independent standalone program organizing the communication between other programs. In many cases, however, a much simpler approach is more feasible. We have developed the Modular Earth Submodel System (MESSy). It comprises (1) a modular interface structure to connect submodels to a base model, (2) an extendable set of such submodels for miscellaneous processes, and (3) a coding standard. MESSy is therefore not a coupler in the classical sense, but exchanges data between a base model and several submodels within one comprehensive executable. The internal complexity of the submodels is controllable in a transparent and user friendly way. This provides remarkable new possibilities to study feedback mechanisms (by two-way coupling). Note that the MESSy and the coupler approach can be combined. For instance, an atmospheric model implemented according to the MESSy standard could easily be coupled to an ocean model by means of an external coupler. The vision is to ultimately form a comprehensive ESM which includes a large set of submodels, and a base model which contains only a central clock and runtime control. This can be reached stepwise, since each process can be included independently. Starting from an existing model, process submodels can be reimplemented according to the MESSy standard. This procedure guarantees the availability of a state-of-the-art model for scientific applications at any time of the development. In principle, MESSy can be implemented into any kind of model, either global or regional. So far, the MESSy concept has been applied to the general circulation model ECHAM5 and a number of process boxmodels.