Converting Elevations to Depths

Have you ever found that the geometry data you’ve imported into your project is in elevation units, but the model you are using requires depth units? Using the the wrong topographic (elevation) or bathymetric (depth) data type can cause significant inaccuracies in your model results. It can also cause a lot of frustration. Therefore, it is always recommended to ensure you are using the correct data before running your model. SMS provides a way to change your data from elevation to depth (or vice versa) after it has been imported into your project.

Ideally, the correct bathymetry data will be used before assigning it to a geometry (2D Mesh, Cartesian Grid, etc.). When the original bathymetry dataset is incorrect, a new dataset should be created using the correct type (e.g., depth instead of elevation). The Data Calculator allows creating new datasets in SMS. This is done in the Scatter module by doing the following:

  1. Open the Dataset Toolbox
  2. Select the Data Calculator
  3. Select the scatter set
  4. Multiply the scatter set by -1
  5. Compute the new scatter set
  6. Use the new scatter set when generating the geometry

An elevation dataset can also be changed to a depth dataset with an existing geometry that has already been generated. This is done by doing the following:

  1. Open the Dataset Toolbox
  2. Select the Data Calculator
  3. Select the current elevation dataset and add it to the expression
  4. Multiply the dataset by -1
  5. Compute a new dataset

After creating the new elevation set, it needs to be designated as the elevation/depth for the geometry.

  1. Use the Data | Map Elevation command
  2. Select the new depth dataset

Now that you know how to change a dataset from elevation to depth, you can avoid the frustration of having the wrong data in your project. Try out the Data Calculator and other tools in SMS today!

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Saving Plots in SMS

After working to put together the perfect plot for your model to show what is going on, it’s nice to be able to keep that plot. Starting in SMS 13.0, you can save plot parameters with your project or for use in other projects.

Previously, SMS allowed exporting the plot as an image or text file, but it did not allow you to save a plot file that SMS could read to regenerate the plot in your project. Saving a plot allows the plot parameters to be used over and over again, saving you from needing to recreate the plot in the future.

To save a plot, do the following:

  1. After generating a plot, use the File | Save As command.
  2. In the Save As dialog, change Save as Type to “Plot File (*.plt)”.

Furthermore, if a plot window is open in SMS when you save your project, a PLT file will be generated to go with your project.

The PLT file that is generated can be opened in any instance of SMS. The file records the parameters used to generate the plot such as the selected datasets, observation arcs used, and plot display options.


Once the plot file has been saved, opening the file in SMS will regenerate the plot. SMS will attempt to recreate the conditions that existed in SMS when the plot was first saved. If the plot is imported into the same project where it was generated, it should appear the same.

If the plot is imported into a different project, SMS will try to match the conditions as closely as possible. For example, if the plot uses an observation arc, SMS will use the first observation arc it can find. If a mesh was used, then SMS will look for the same mesh. It will also look for the same dataset and if it cannot find it, then it will look for a dataset with the same name.

Test out saving plots in SMS 13.0 today!

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How to Relax or Refine a Mesh in SMS

Are you ever tempted to refine your mesh after creation using the mesh editing tools? Manually changing hundreds or thousands of mesh elements using the mesh tools can be very time consuming.

Although possible to use the mesh tools, it is better to recreate a new mesh when wanting to refine or relax the elements. This will maintain the accuracy of your mesh, and reduces possible issues that may arise later on in the project due to inconsistencies that editing manually creates.

To recreate a refined or relaxed mesh:

  1. Create a mesh generator coverage.
    1. If the existing mesh was created from a mesh generator coverage, you can use that coverage or a duplicate of that coverage.
    2. If a mesh generator coverage does not exist, you can create a mesh generator coverage by converting the mesh boundary or nodestrings to a new mesh generator coverage.
  2. Go to your mesh generator coverage and redistribute the vertices so that there are either more or less arc segments depending on what you are trying to accomplish with your model. To relax the mesh, fewer arc segments are desired, and to refine the mesh more arc segments are desired.
  3. Assign the desired meshing type (paving, patch, etc.) to the polygons in the mesh generator coverage and set the bathymetry source to use. Be certain to preview how the mesh will generate with the new spacing for each polygon.
  4. Now generate a new 2D mesh using the edited mesh generator coverage.
  5. Add the new mesh to your model simulation and run the model using the relaxed or refined mesh.

Sometimes you might not want to relax ro refine the entire mesh. To only relax ro refine part of the mesh do the following.

  1. Create a new mesh generator coverage.
  2. Create a polygon in the area of the mesh you wish to relax or refine.
  3. Redistribute the vertices along the arcs in the polygon to so there is a great or fewer number of segments along each arc.
  4. Set the meshing type for the polygon and assign it a bathymetry source. Be certain to preview the mesh for the polygon to be certain you are getting the mesh you want.
  5. Generate a new 2D mesh for the area being refined or relaxed.
  6. Select both 2D meshes and merge them together.
  7. Add the new merged mesh to your model simulation and run the model.

Using these steps when editing a mesh can make a huge difference in your model and save you time. Try out relaxing and refining meshes in SMS today!

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Moving SRH-2D Material Attributes to Another Project

After setting your SRH-2D material attributes in one SMS project, have you ever wanted to transfer those attributes to another SMS project? Doing this can save you from having to reenter the same material attributes into a separate project. You can even transfer multiple material coverages at once.

There are three project files referred to here: the original project, the project with the saved material coverage attributes, and the third project to which you want to add the saved material attributes. To make sure these instructions are clear, we'll call them Project A, Project B, and Project C, respectively.

To save time on other projects that use the same material attributes, you can use the following steps to export them for later use:

  1. Outside SMS, create a copy (Project B) of your project directory. This prevents you from accidentally damaging the original project (Project A) during the process.
  2. In Project B (the copy), delete any geometric data that isn’t going to be transferred, such as meshes, grids, GIS data, and scatter sets.
  3. Also remove any coverages and material data you do not want transferred.
  4. On the SRH-2D material coverages, remove any polygons and feature objects that you do not want transferred. This is assuming that the project receiving the new material parameters will be assigning the material properties to different polygons.
  5. This is the tricky part. You have to have at least one Map object for a map file to be saved in SMS. Therefore, create a new coverage of any type as a placeholder. Create a single feature point in this placeholder coverage.
  6. Use the Save command to save Project B that only contains the SRH-2D material coverages with your material properties, and one one other coverage with a single feature object.
  7. In another instance of SMS, open Project C.
  8. Use the Open command to open Project B.
  9. SMS should ask if you want to delete this data. If this happens, respond "No". The coverages from Project B (and its material lists and attributes) will be loaded into Project C.
  10. Now to add the material lists from the Project B into the material lists in Project C by right-clicking on the transferred coverage and selecting the Assign Materials to menu command. SMS will bring up the Assign Materials dialog where you can add materials from one coverage to another. You can either add the materials to the list of this coverage or replace the materials list in this coverage.

Now that you know how to transfer material parameters from one project to another, try it out in the SMS today!

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