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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enhancing Water Conservation and Crop Productivity in Irrigated Agriculture

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

Title: A model-independent open-source geospatial tool for managing point-based environmental model simulations at multiple spatial locations

item Thorp, Kelly
item Bronson, Kevin

Submitted to: Environmental Modelling & Software
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 5, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Important environmental processes, such as evapotranspiration, greenhouse gas flux from the soil, crop growth, and soil nutrient dynamics, are all known to be spatially variable across the landscape. However, many of the computer models used to simulate these processes only do so at one point on the landscape. Simulations for other locations require that the model's input parameters be adjusted to reflect conditions at those locations. Recent advancements in sensors and instrumentation have provided a wealth of geospatial data that can be combined with computer models to better understand the environmental processes that impact humankind. However, there is a need for geospatial tools that facilitate the use of this geospatial data for computer model simulations at various points on the landscape. In this study, a novel software approach was developed to accomplish this. The main result is a software package that is flexible to conduct spatial simulations with a variety of computer models. The software is also open-source and freely available for download and use within a common geographic information system. As a result, it can be widely distributed and implemented by researchers, modelers, and environmental practitioners around the world.

Technical Abstract: Most environmental processes are known to be spatially variable across the landscape. However, many of the simulation models used to estimate and quantify these processes are point-based, meaning they simulate conditions at only one point on the landscape. The objective of this paper is to describe a novel geospatial tool box, Geospatial Simulation (GeoSim), which can be used to spatially extrapolate point-based simulation models using geospatial data within a geographic information system (GIS). GeoSim has been developed as a plug-in for Quantum GIS, and both of these software programs are open-source and freely available. An important feature of GeoSim is its model independent nature, meaning any point-based simulation model that uses input and output files can be spatially controlled. GeoSim facilitates the transfer of geospatial data from the GIS database to the model input files and from the model output files back to the GIS database. GeoSim presently includes six software tools, each with a graphics user interface. The tools are useful for processing geospatial data layers, conducting spatial model simulations, and optimizing model simulations for the conditions within unique geospatial units. The flexible design of GeoSim is intended to support spatial modeling exercises for a variety of models and for a variety of environmental applications.

Last Modified: 8/27/2015
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