Dr. Phillip J. Wolfram is a computational fluid dynamist in the Theoretical division Fluid Dynamics and Solid Mechanics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory with expertise in numerical methods and modeling of small- and large-scale environmental flows, ranging from the river junction scale to the global ocean. His work has centered on understanding mixing processes within complex flows, from small-scale secondary flows in channel networks in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta to large-scale geostrophic turbulence in idealized Northern Atlantic and Southern Ocean flows.

He uses fluid mechanics, algorithms, high-performance computing, software engineering, and advanced visualization techniques to increase knowledge of computation, analysis, and the physics of complex, eddy-driven mixing processes, with emphasis on coastal and climate applications. He is an expert in development and application of unstructured computational fluid dynamics, especially nonhydrostatic processes and in-situ Lagrangian particle tracking techniques. His work uses multiple methods to understand physical phenomena, including observations, computational physics, and analysis. He is currently working on projects related to high-performance particle tracking and analysis, biogeochemical climate modeling, and ocean and coastal modeling and science.


Multiresolution, Multiscale Modeling for Scalable Macroalgae Production – ARPA-E MARINER (Los Alamos project and technical lead; project PI Zhaoqing Yang)

This multidisciplinary team provides a multiscale and multimodel simulation capability to evaluate and optimize the design of macroalgae farming for biofuels. Extension of MPAS-O biogeochemistry capabilities for regional refinement allows simulation of the key oceanographic and biogeochemical conditions needed for macroalgae farming for biofuels. Data analysis and synthesis yield a mariculture farmer almanac for use in simulation and field-scale planning for macroalgae farming will aid technological development in this new industry.

Adaptation Science for Complex Natural-Engineered Systems – LDRD DR (MPAS-O techincal lead; Natural System lead Joel Rowland; project PI Donatella Pasqualini)

Impacts of climate change on the coasts will have severe infrastructure impacts that are presently impossible to predict for proactive planning, e.g., due to inundation by hurricanes. Development of coastal processes in MPAS-O is needed to simulate these effects of climate change for an accurate natural system simulation of ecogeomorphic, decadal-scale shoreline evolution for inundation analysis within infrastructure adapation studies under secular (drought) and episodic (extreme events like hurricanes) climate changes.

Energy Exascale Earth System Model – DOE Office of Science BER (Coastal waves next generation development lead; Los Alamos lead Steve Price)

E3SM is the primier climate modeling capability of the DOE, which includes coupled process-based representations of the global earth system with multiscale, multiphysics capabilities facilitiating regional climate simulation. In particular, development and evaluation of algorithms in the Model for Prediction Across Scales Ocean (MPAS-O) can improve the coupled climate system, particularly for crysosphere and water cycle science questions, e.g., sea level rise impacts and coupled ocean-ice interactions. In-situ analysis techniques such as LIGHT and MPAS-Analysis further understanding of flows within the ocean and its context within the broader coupled climate system. Development of new capabilities for inclusion within E3SM, e.g., wave modeling, improves the global ocean flow as well as opens the door for coastal ocean simulation.

Peer-reviewed Publications

1. DeSantis, D., Wolfram, P.J., Bennett, K. & Alexandrov, B. Coarse-Grain Cluster Analysis of Tensors With Application to Climate Biome Identification. Mach. Learn.: Sci. Technol. at <>

2. Cao, Z., Wolfram, P.J., Rowland, J., Zhang, Y. & Pasqualini, D. Analysis of non-cohesive sediment settling velocity parameterizations. J. Hydraul. Eng.

3. Zhang, Y. & others. Intercomparison of eco-geomorphologic models: Toward a unified view of hydro-eco-geomorphological process sensitivities for coastal wetland evolution. JGR Earth Surf.

4. Hoch, K. & others. MPAS-Ocean simulation quality for variable-resolution north american coastal meshes. J. Adv. Mod. Earth Sys.

5. Golaz, J. & others. The DOE E3SM coupled model version 1: Overview and evaluation at standard resolution. J. Adv. Mod. Earth Sys. 11, 2089–2129 (2019).

6. Petersen, M. & others. An evaluation of the ocean and sea ice climate of E3SM using MPAS and interannual CORE-II forcing. J. Adv. Mod. Earth Sys. 11, 1438–1458 (2019).

7. Samsel, F., Wolfram, P.J., Bares, A., Turton, T. & Bujack, R. Colormapping resources and strategies for organized intuitive environmental visualization. Env. Earth Sci. 78, 269 (2019).

8. Dutta, S. & others. Leveraging Lagrangian Analysis for Discriminating Nutrient Origins. in Workshop on visualisation in environmental sciences (EnvirVis) (2019). doi:10.2312/envirvis.20191100

9. Johnson, S. & others. Artifact-based rendering: Harnessing natural and traditional visual media for more expressive and engaging 3D visualizations. IEEE TVCG (2019).

10. van Sebille, E. & others. Lagrangian analysis of ocean velocity data: Fundamentals and practices. Ocean Modell. (2018). doi:10.1016/j.ocemod.2017.11.008

11. Gospodnetic, P. & others. Ocean current segmentation at different depths and correlation with temperature in a MPAS-Ocean simulation. in IEEE Scientific Visualization Conference (SciVis) 62–66 (IEEE, 2018).

12. Coffrin, C. & others. The ISTI Rapid Response on Exploring Cloud Computing 2018. arXiv preprint arXiv:1901.01331 (2019).

13. Samsel, F., Turton, T., Wolfram, P.J. & Bujack, R. Intuitive Colormaps for Environmental Visualization. in Workshop on visualisation in environmental sciences (EnvirVis) (The Eurographics Association, 2017). doi:10.2312/envirvis.20171105

14. Wolfram, P. J. & Ringler, T. D. Computing eddy-driven effective diffusivity using Lagrangian particles. Ocean Modell. 118, 94–106 (2017).

15. Wolfram, P. J. & Ringler, T. D. Quantifying residual, eddy, and mean flow effects on mixing in an idealized circumpolar current. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 47, 1897–1920 (2017).

16. Ringler, T., Saenz, J., Wolfram, P.J. & Van Roekel, L. A thickness-weighted average perspective of force balance in an idealized circumpolar current. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 47, 285–302 (2017).

17. Evans, K. J. & others. ACME priority metrics (a-prime). (Oak Ridge National Lab.(ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States), 2017).

18. Wolfram, P.J., Fringer, O., Monsen, N., Gleichauf, K., Fong, D. & Monismith, S. Modeling intrajunction dispersion at a tidal river junction. J. Hydraul. Eng. 04016019 (2016). doi:10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001108

19. Wolfram, P. J. & Lorenz, W. F. Longstanding design: Roman engineering of aqueduct arcades. Int. J. Hist. Eng. Technol. 86, 56–69 (2016).

20. Wolfram, P.J., Ringler, T., Maltrud, M., Jacobsen, D. & Petersen, M. Diagnosing isopycnal diffusivity in an eddying, idealized mid-latitude ocean basin via Lagrangian In-situ, Global, High-performance particle Tracking (LIGHT). J. Phys. Oceanogr. 45, 2114–2133 (2015).

21. Gleichauf, K., Wolfram, P.J., Monsen, N., Fringer, O. & Monismith, S. Dispersion mechanisms of a tidal river junction in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California. San Francisco Estuary Watershed Sci. 12, (2014).

22. Wolfram, P.J. Secondary flows and dispersion in channel junctions. (2013).

23. Wolfram, P.J. & Fringer, O. Mitigating horizontal divergence ‘checker-board’ oscillations on unstructured triangular C-grids for nonlinear hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic flows. Ocean Modell. 69, 64–78 (2013).

24. Lorenz, W. & Wolfram, P.J. Ancient water quality: Roman engineering of the Barbegal Mill. J. Am. Water Works Assn. 104, (2012).

25. Lorenz, W., Wolfram, P.J. & Castermans, P. Water flow to the ancient industrial mill of Barbegal– La Burlande Basin. in 3rd IWA Specialized Conference on Water & Wastewater Technologies in Ancient Civilizations, MN–60 (2012).

26. Lorenz, W. & Wolfram, P.J. Valley crossings and flood management for ancient Roman aqueduct bridges. J. Irrig. Drain. Eng. 137, 816–819 (2011).

27. P.J. Wolfram. Community Tap: Mitigating water scarcity problems in the developing world through community-based Traditional Environmental Knowledge. (2008).

28. P.J. Wolfram, Wayllace, A., Likos, W. & Lu, N. Unsaturated Soil Mechanics Solution Manual. (2007).

29. Lorenz, W. & Wolfram, P.J. The millstones of Barbegal. Civil Engineering 77, 62–67 (2007).

30. Lorenz, W. & Wolfram, P.J. Arches have no rivals. Roads & Bridges 45, 48–50 (2007).