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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Integrated Modelling Frameworks for Environmental Assessment and Decision Support

Authors
item Rizzoli, Andrea - IDSIA
item Leavesley, George - USGS
item Ascough, James
item Argent, Robert - UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
item Athanasiadis, Ioannis - IDSIA
item Brilhante, Virginia - UNIVERSITY AMAZONAS
item Claeys, Filip - GHENT UNIVERSITY
item David, Olaf - COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
item Donatelli, Marcello - CRA-ISCI
item Gijsbers, Peter - UNIVERSITY OF DELFT
item Havlik, Denis - ARC RESEARCH
item Kassahun, Ayalew - WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
item Krause, Peter - UNIVERSITY OF JENA
item Quinn, Nigel - BERKELEY LAB
item Scholten, Huub - WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
item Sojda, Richard - USGS
item Villa, Ferdinando - UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

Submitted to: Environmental Modelling & Software
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 14, 2007
Publication Date: October 17, 2008
Citation: Rizzoli, A.E., Leavesley, G.H., Ascough Ii, J.C., Argent, R.M., Athanasiadis, I.N., Brilhante, V.C., Claeys, F.H., David, O., Donatelli, M., Gijsbers, P., Havlik, D., Kassahun, A., Krause, P., Quinn, N.W., Scholten, H., Sojda, R.S., Villa, F. 2008. Integrated Modelling Frameworks for Environmental Assessment and Decision Support. Environmental Modeling & Software.

Interpretive Summary: Modern management of environmental resources defines problems from a holistic and integrated perspective, imposing strong requirements to Environmental Decision Support Systems (EDSSs) and Integrated Assessment Tools (IATs), which tend to be increasingly complex in terms of software architecture and computational power in order to cope with the type of problems they must solve. Such systems need to support methodologies and techniques ranging from agent-based modelling to participatory decision-making. Sometimes EDSSs and IATs are built from scratch, often with limited resources, by non-programmers. The disadvantages of this approach, which can quickly become overly expensive in terms of delivery time and resources required, have been addressed by the development of suites of software engineering tools called Environmental Integrated Modelling Frameworks (EIMFs). EIMFs have typically been designed as a response to the increasing complexity of building and delivering EDSSs and IATs. Modelling and simulation tools and frameworks have been adopted at a large scale in the management science and operations research disciplines, and standards for developing and expanding them have been developed. In contrast, no modelling framework has been universally adopted within the environmental modelling domain, and the number of environmental modelling frameworks is still growing. In this book chapter, we strive to address the above issues and clearly identify the essential characteristics of an EIMF. This book chapter also advocates the development of open standards for the exchange and re-use of modelling knowledge, including data sets, models, and procedures in order to facilitate improved communication among the leading EIMFs.

Technical Abstract: Modern management of environmental resources defines problems from a holistic and integrated perspective, imposing strong requirements to Environmental Decision Support Systems (EDSSs) and Integrated Assessment Tools (IATs), which tend to be increasingly complex in terms of software architecture and computational power in order to cope with the type of problems they must solve. For instance, the discipline of Integrated Assessment (IA) needs tools that are able to span a wide range of disciplines, from socio-economics to ecology to hydrology. Such tools need to support methodologies and techniques ranging from agent-based modelling to participatory decision-making. Sometimes EDSSs and IATs are built from scratch, often with limited resources, by non-programmers. From a software point of view, these applications are custom-made, by craftsmen, rather than industrially developed by professionals. More recently, the disadvantages of this approach, which can quickly become overly expensive in terms of delivery time and resources required, have been addressed by the development of suites of software engineering tools called Environmental Integrated Modelling Frameworks (EIMFs). EIMFs have typically been designed as a response to the increasing complexity of building and delivering EDSSs and IATs. Modelling frameworks are not a novelty per se, making a first appearance in the management science field. The framework concept later found its way into commercial packages such as MATLAB for scientific computing, GAMS and AMPL for management science, and operations research applications. Moreover, modelling and simulation tools and frameworks have been adopted at a large scale in other disciplines, and standards for developing and expanding them have been adopted. In contrast, no modelling framework has been universally adopted within the environmental modelling domain, and the number of environmental modelling frameworks is still growing. A frequently asked question is: “why do we need yet another modelling framework?” The reasons why MATLAB, MathCAD, Mathematica and similar software environments are not up to the task of deploying effective and usable EDSSs are often unclear, and there is always the option of re-using an existing EIMF. Yet, this option is often disregarded, again without a clear reasoning behind it. In this book chapter, we strive to address the above issues and clearly identify the essential characteristics of an EIMF. This book chapter also advocates the development of open standards for the exchange and re-use of modelling knowledge, including data sets, models, and procedures in order to facilitate improved communication among the leading EIMFs.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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