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SMS (Surface-water Modeling System) is a complete program for building and simulating surface water models. It is a graphical user interface and analysis tool that allows engineers and scientists to visualize, manipulate, analyze, and understand numerical data and associated measurements. Many of the tools in SMS are generic. They are designed to facilitate the establishment and operation of numerical models of rivers, coasts, inlets, bays, estuaries, and lakes. It features 1D and 2D modeling and a unique conceptual model approach. Some of the currently supported models in SMS include ADCIRC, BOUSS-2D, CGWAVE, CMS-Flow, CMS-Wave, GenCade, SRH-2D, STWAVE, and TUFLOW.

Introduction to SMS

  • The Highlights provide a summary of SMS capabilities.
  • The SMS tutorials are step-by-step guides for building models and using SMS features. They are an excellent place to begin learning how to use SMS.
  • See Layout of the Graphical Interface for more information on the organization of the toolbars, menus, and windows in SMS.
  • Much of the SMS functionality is divided into modules based upon the type of data (grids, meshes, GIS, etc). SMS also contains features that are not tied to specific modules.
  • SMS supports a number of numerical models with a variety of uses including hydraulics, wave modeling, and particle tracking.


SMS was initially developed by the Engineering Computer Graphics Laboratory (later renamed in September, 1998 to Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory or EMRL) at Brigham Young University in the late 1980s on Unix workstations. The development of SMS was funded primarily by The United States Army Corps of Engineers. It was later ported to Microsoft Windows platforms in the mid 1990s and support for HP-UX, IRIX, DEC-OSF, and Solaris platforms was discontinued.

In April 2007, the main software development team at EMRL entered private enterprise as Aquaveo LLC and continue to develop SMS and other software products, such as WMS (Watershed Modeling System) and GMS (Groundwater Modeling System).