Additional wflow options

Starting the model with "warm" states

The state section in the TOML file provides information on the input file if the model is initialized with a warm state (path_input) and to what file the states are written at the end of the model run (path_output). Please note that the model setting reinit needs to be set to false in order to initialize the model with states from the file located at path_input. A mapping between external state names and internal model states is required. This information is specified for each model component, the vertical model and lateral model components. In the example below the vertical component represents the SBM concept, and for the lateral components there is a river (including optional reservoir, lake and floodplain components), land and subsurface domain. The internal model states are listed on the left side, and the external state names are listed on the right side. Note that path_input is only required when reinit is set to false. path_output is optional, an output state file is only written when it is defined. If neither is set, the entire state section can be left out.

reinit = false # cold (reinit = true) or warm state (reinit = false), default is true

path_input = "data/"     # Location of the file with the input states
path_output = "data/"   # Output location of the states after the model run

satwaterdepth = "satwaterdepth"
snow = "snow"
tsoil = "tsoil"
ustorelayerdepth = "ustorelayerdepth"
canopystorage = "canopystorage"
snowwater = "snowwater"
glacierstore ="glacierstore"

q = "q_river"
h = "h_river"
h_av = "h_av_river"

q = "q_floodplain"
h = "h_floodplain"

volume = "volume_reservoir"

waterlevel = "waterlevel_lake"

ssf = "ssf"

q = "q_land"
h = "h_land"
h_av = "h_av_land"

Enabling snow and glacier processes

snow = true
masswasting = true
glacier = true

tt = "TT"
tti = "TTI"
ttm = "TTM"
water_holding_capacity = "WHC"
glacierstore = "wflow_glacierstore"
glacierfrac = "wflow_glacierfrac"
g_cfmax = "G_Cfmax"
g_tt = "G_TT"
g_sifrac = "G_SIfrac"

Enabling reservoirs

reservoirs = true

area = "ResSimpleArea"
areas = "wflow_reservoirareas"
demand = "ResDemand"
locs = "wflow_reservoirlocs"
maxrelease = "ResMaxRelease"
maxvolume = "ResMaxVolume"
targetfullfrac = "ResTargetFullFrac"
targetminfrac = "ResTargetMinFrac"

volume = "volume_reservoir"

Enabling lakes

lakes = true

area = "lake_area"
areas = "wflow_lakeareas"
b = "lake_b"
e = "lake_e"
locs = "wflow_lakelocs"
outflowfunc = "lake_outflowfunc"
storfunc  = "lake_storfunc"
threshold  = "lake_threshold"
waterlevel = "lake_waterlevel"

waterlevel = "waterlevel_lake"

Enabling Floodplain routing

As part of the local inertial model for river flow.

floodplain_1d = true

volume = "floodplain_volume"
n = "floodplain_n"

q = "q_floodplain"
h = "h_floodplain"

Using multithreading

Using wflow in Julia

Wflow supports multi-threading execution of the wflow_sbm model that uses the kinematic wave approach for river, overland and lateral subsurface flow. Both the vertical SBM concept and the kinematic wave components of this model can run on multiple threads. The optional local inertial model for river flow SBM + Local inertial river model and the optional local inertial model for river (1D) and land (2D) SBM + Local inertial river (1D) and land (2D), both part of wflow_sbm, can also run on multiple threads. The threading functionality for the kinematic wave may also be useful for models that make (partly) use of this routing approach as the wflow_hbv model and the wflow_sbm model SBM + Groundwater flow. The multi-threading functionality in Wflow is considered experimental, see also the following issue, where an error was not thrown running code multi-threaded. Because of this we advise to start with running a Wflow model single-threaded (for example during the testing phase of setting up an new Wflow model).

For information on how to start Julia with multiple threads we refer to How to start Julia with multiple threads.

Additionally, when running Julia + wflow via the command line (note that this is different from the wflow_cli), it is possible to define the number of threads via the -t flag. An example where we start Julia with three threads:

julia -t 3 -e 'using Wflow;' path/to/config.toml

Using the command line interface

As explained above, we need to start julia with multiple threads to make use of this speedup. For wflow_cli, the only way to do this is by setting the JULIA_NUM_THREADS environment variable, as explained in these julia docs.

When a model run starts, among the run information the number of threads that are used is printed, so nthreads() = 4 means 4 threads are used, because JULIA_NUM_THREADS has been set to 4.

Using the Basic Model Interface


The Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSMDS) has developed the Basic Model Interface (BMI). BMI consists of a set of standard control and query functions that can be added by a developer to the model code and makes a model both easier to learn and easier to couple with other software elements.

For more information see also:

CSDMS provides specifications for the languages C, C++, Fortran and Python. Wflow, written in the Julia programming language, makes use of the following Julia specification, based on BMI 2.0 version.

For the BMI implementation of Wflow all grids are defined as unstructured grids, including the special cases scalar and points. While the input (forcing and model parameters) is structured (uniform rectilinear), internally wflow works with one dimensional arrays based on the active grid cells of the 2D model domain.


The variables that Wflow can exchange through BMI are based on the different model components and these components should be listed under the API section of the TOML configuration file of the model type. Below an example of this API section, that lists the vertical component and different lateral components:

components = [

See also:

BMI.initialize(::Type{<:Wflow.Model}, config_file)

Initialize the model. Reads the input settings and data as defined in the Config object generated from the configuration file config_file. Will return a Model that is ready to run.


Returns model input variables, based on the API section in the model configuration file. This API sections contains a list of Model components for which variables can be exchanged.


Variables with a third dimension, for example layer as part of the vertical SBM concept, are exposed as two-dimensional grids through the Wflow BMI implementation. For these variables the index of this third dimension is required, by adding [k] to the variable name (k refers to the index of the third dimension). For example, the variable vertical.vwc[1] refers to the first soil layer of the vertical SBM concept.

Couple to a groundwater model

For the coupling of wflow_sbm (SBM + kinematic wave) with a groundwater model (e.g. MODFLOW) it is possible to run:

  • wflow_sbm in parts from the BMI, and
  • to switch off the lateral subsurface flow component of wflow_sbm.

The lateral subsurface component of wflow_sbm is not initialized by Wflow when the [input.lateral.subsurface] part of the TOML file is not included. Then from the BMI it is possible to run first the recharge part of SBM:

model = BMI.update(model, run="sbm_until_recharge")

and to exchange recharge and for example river waterlevels to the groundwater model. After the groundwater model update, and the exchange of groundwater head and for example drain and river flux to wflow_sbm, the SBM part that mainly determines exfiltration of water from the unsaturated store, and the kinematic wave for river - and overland flow can be run as follows:

model = BMI.update(model, run="sbm_after_subsurfaceflow")

See also:

BMI.update(model::Model; run = nothing)

Update the model for a single timestep.


  • run = nothing: to update a model partially.

Run from Delft-FEWS

Wflow integrates easily as part of an operational system by linking to the Delft-FEWS platform. Delft-FEWS integrates data and models, and is for example used in many active flood forecasting systems around the world.

This can be done without a model adapter that provides the interface between Delft-FEWS and an external model (or module). This is possible because time information in the TOML configuration file is optional and Delft-FEWS can import and export NetCDF files. When time information is left out from the TOML configuration file, the starttime, endtime and timestepsecs (timestep) of the run is extracted from the NetCDF forcing file by Wflow.

To indicate that a Wflow model runs from Delft-FEWS, the following setting needs to be specified in the main section of the TOML configuration file:

fews_run = true  # optional, default value is false

This ensures that Wflow offsets the time handling, to meet the expectations of Delft-FEWS.

It also uses a different format for the log file such that each log message takes up only one line. That meets the General Adapter logFile expectations, which then can get parsed with these Delft-FEWS log parsing settings:

    <errorLinePattern >* [Error] *</errorLinePattern >
    <warningLinePattern>* [Warn] *</warningLinePattern>
    <infoLinePattern>* [Info] *</infoLinePattern>
    <debugLinePattern >* [Debug] *</debugLinePattern >