Stream A: Advanced Methods and Approaches in Environmental Computing

Advancements in computational methods and technology are always playing an important role for model development and application. Novel approaches that enable innovative software applications for environmental systems are requested; current and future computational challenges for modeling are among the proposed session topics.

A1: Towards More Interoperable, Reusable and Scalable Environmental Software            

Organizers: Ioannis N. Athanasiadis (WUR), Steve Frysinger (JMU), Gerald Schimak (AIT), Zoheir Sabeur (Southampton Univ), Jiri Hrebicek (MU)

Big data, Cloud computing, and Internet of Things bring new challenges and opportunities for integrated modelling platforms and environmental software practice. This session aims to serve as a forum for recent advances in the field of environmental software development that demonstrate experiences with big data, IoT, cloud, virtualisation or parallel computing and how these transform environmental modelling and software practice. Application domains include a broad range of environmental sciences and applications, including environmental monitoring, marine, climate change, hydrology, agriculture, and/or emergency/crises management. The session is sponsored by IFIP WG 5.11 “Computers and the Environment”.”

A2: Open Socio-environmental Modelling and Simulation            

Organizers: Min Chen, Jon Goodall, Albert Kettner, Alexey Voinov

Applying socio-environmental modelling is a powerful strategy to better understand processes that interact with the earth surface. However, a single model alone has limited capacity for simulating complex socio-environmental phenomena, and it becomes a challenge for a single group with specific domain knowledge to address these comprehensive problems. In this respect, sharing models and therefore enabling their integration is a powerful approach, but at the same time a challenge to attract and engage dispersed multi-disciplinary experts. With collaborative research practices and the development of distributed, web-based architectures, an open socio-environmental modelling and simulation web-based architecture has now become within reach. Moreover, open refers to both the architecture and the research mode where ideas, data, knowledge, and models are freely shared. This session aims at exploring related theories, methods, and potential applications, facilitating communication between experts from multidisciplinary domains, encouraging extensive discussion regarding the potential directions of the field, and promoting further research for a bright future.”

A3: Simulation, Optimization, and Metamodelling: Tradeoffs of Speed, Resource Utilization, and Accuracy

Organizers: Andre Dozier, Olaf David, John Labadie

Managing environmental resources requires deep understanding of system responses to management solutions. Thus, for any given system, simulation of system responses is required while numerically optimizing management solutions. Often, as parallel efforts are being made to develop more accurate and integrated modelling infrastructure, environmental system models suffer from long computation times. Efforts to reduce computational complexities by parallelization or metamodelling have become important to better understand and optimize management solutions, but come with tradeoffs including increased resource utilization and decreased modelling accuracy. In this session, we will discuss the tradeoffs associated with metamodelling methodologies including linear regression, artificial neural networks, classification trees, and other forms of regression, and associated with parallelization of simulation, optimization, and metamodelling techniques.  

A4: Model Integration Frameworks: A Discussion of Typologies, Standards, Languages, and Platforms

Organizers: Andre Dozier, Olaf David

Environmental resource assessment and management have long required improved technical modelling capacities because of the large breadth and variety of systems that influence environmental resources. Even with improved geophysical modelling capability, models struggle to predict impacts on social, environmental, and economic outcomes because of a lack of broader integration with socioeconomic or ecological feedbacks and methodologies. To enhance model integration capacities, the environmental modelling community has developed model integration frameworks. In this session, we will discuss a typology of problems these frameworks are designed to address, standards they implement to get there, languages they require, and platforms they sit on. We will also discuss ways of integrating across standards, languages, and platforms to identify techniques that span computing technologies to answer even larger integrated resource assessment and management problems.

A5: Leveraging Cloud computing, Containerization, and Microservices for Environmental Modelling Software Deployment

Organizers: Wesley Lloyd, Olaf David

Recent advances driven by the advent of cloud computing are enabling scientists to leverage increasingly accessible compute infrastructure for robust and cost effective environmental science.  Innovations including the advent of software containers, by-the-second billing for compute resources, and serverless computing give modelers more options and flexibility than ever to deploy environmental science applications in the cloud while reducing infrastructure costs. Operating system containers such as Docker, support packaging all dependencies of environmental software into easy-to-build containers making software deployments easier while also improving the ability to reproduce scientific results.  Scientists can disseminate preconfigured software and datasets easily through the convenient packaging offered by containers.  Serverless computing platforms enable modelers to deploy code as microservices to the cloud providing always available, fault tolerant, and scalable software deployments for minimal cost.  Additionally, cloud providers have improved infrastructure billing by now offering by-the-second, and even sub-second billing so that modelers will only pay for the resources they actually use.  This session will provide a venue for the presentation and discussion on innovative uses of cloud computing, software services, virtualization, containerization, and serverless computing that enhance the development and deployment of Environmental Modelling Software. We will discuss how these new technologies are best leveraged to provide performance improvements and flexible software deployments while also providing cost effective infrastructure alternatives for hosting environment modelling software.

A6: Innovation in Continental Scale Modelling for Decision-making, Research, and Education

Organizers: Jerad Bales (CUAHSI), Martin Seul (CUAHSI), Anthony Castronova (CUAHSI), Jon Pollak (CUAHSI)

Advances in theory, computational technology, and data availability have enabled water prediction at continental to global scales, but many challenges remain. In the United States, these developments have led to new products such as the National Weather Service’s experimental National Water Model, as well as other products. These models provide a new avenue for improved water budget prediction, advancing hydrologic research, and opportunities for transformative experiences in graduate education. This session will cover a spectrum of topics including trade-offs between model resolution, accuracy, and computational requirements; near real-time flood forecasting and mapping applications; terrain and infrastructure feature description; model initialization and boundary condition specification; and new model performance evaluation methodologies.

A7: Environmental Modelling in High Performance Computing

Organizers: David Wong, Luxi Zhou, Ajith Kaduwela, Venkatramani Balaji

In the past 20+ years, high performance computing (HPC) technology has rapidly advanced: from vector machine, to massively parallel systems, to multi-core and many integrated core architecture, to the usage of Graphical Processing Unit (GPU). These advances in HPC have enable researchers to tackle ambitious and complex problems, e.g. understand how future extreme weather may impact human, how decadal emission control policy resulted “brightening” in the US, and quantified long term air pollution in the Northern Hemisphere and its associated mortality rate. This session focuses on but not limited to how recent evolution of HPC has enhanced research and discovery in environmental modelling. In particular submission are encouraged that introduce new ideas to the computational modelling field, modelling applications, and methodology to improve HPC performance. We also welcome submissions that make significant contribution to the “state-of-the-practice” by providing compelling insights on best practices for provisioning, using and enhancing HPC system.

Stream B: (Big) Data Solutions for Planning, Management, and Operation and Environmental Systems

Processing data and environmental information using Big Data methods, identifying challenges, opportunities and solutions. Efficient environmental data management, storage, processing, and analytics at scale are topics for sessions in this stream.


B1: Modelling and Managing Urban Water and Energy Demands in the Era of Big Data

Organizers: Andrea Cominola, Ashlynn Stillwell, Stefano Galelli, Andrea Castelletti

Water and energy demands are changing worldwide due to population growth, urbanization, and land use and climate change. Understanding how these demands evolve at different spatial and temporal scales across heterogeneous scenarios is key to inform water and energy planning, management, and supply operations. Recent technological development and diffusion of advanced metering hardware, coupled with increasing data availability, emerging big data analytics, and data-learning techniques, are opening new opportunities to advance mathematical modelling of water and energy demands. This session aims to provide an active forum to discuss water and energy demand models emphasizing changing demand magnitude, peaks, spatial-temporal patterns, multi-sectoral interconnections, and multi-scale interrelations within the integrated urban water and energy systems. Topics and applications could belong to any area of urban water and energy demand modelling and management, including intelligent metering systems, big-data management, information extraction, data-driven descriptive/predictive modelling, cyber-physical security, information security, and optimization of water and energy demands.  

B2: Hybrid modelling and innovative data analysis for integrated environmental decision support

Organizers: Peter A. Khaiter, Marina G. Erechtchoukova

Environmental resource assessment and management heavily rely on the results of observation data analysis, evaluation of related management scenarios via predicting their outcomes and developing mitigation measures, if such are necessary. The required analysis is interdisciplinary and complex since it is conducted on data collected by different agencies in various scales and forms based on data-driven, model-driven, or hybrid approaches. The latter are considered promising tool for solving multi-scale and interdisciplinary problems. The session invites original contributions on application of advanced analytical techniques to environmental resource assessment and management. The techniques include, but are not limited to, data-driven analysis and heterogeneous data integration and machining learning (both supervised and unsupervised) approaches, statistical data analysis and visualization, intelligent data analysis and its combination with process-based simulations, exploratory and confirmatory analysis. Hybrid frameworks and techniques, success stories of their application and lessons learned are also welcomed.

B3: Sixth Session on Data Mining as a Tool for Environmental Scientists (S-DMTES-2018)

Organizers: Karina Gibert (fiEMSs), Miquel Sànchez-Marrè (fiEMSs), Ioannis Athanasiadis (fiEMSs), Geoff Holmes

This session is strongly linked with the workshop DMTES2018, seventh iEMSs DMTES workshop, and aims to approach and to promote the interaction between the Environmental Sciences community and the Data Mining/Data Science community and related fields, such as Artificial Intelligence, Statistics or other fields, all providing methodologies to exploit available data for decisional knowledge extraction in a wide sense. According to the main focus of the iEMSs 2018 conference, we invite submissions of papers and presentations about applications of data science, data mining and related methodologies to sustainable food, energy and water systems, even if other environmental domains can be welcomed as well. New or improved techniques or methods are welcomed, as well as innovative applications, including heterogenous sources of information, like classical data, images, open text, semmantic data, georeferenced data, data streams among others.

Stream C: Integrated Social, Economic, Ecological, and Infrastructural Modeling

Environmental models are increasingly used to assist planners and managers in the decision-making process. These processes often require integration of data and modeling tools from traditionally disparate disciplines. Moreover, interactions with stakeholders during model building may be vital for increased acceptance of modeling results.  This session focuses on social, economic, ecological and infrastructural modeling efforts.


C1: Participatory Modelling, Ambiguity and the Challenges of Being Inclusive     

Organizers: Marcela Brugnach, Raffaele Giordano

Participatory modelling expands modelling activity beyond prediction to include processes designed together with stakeholders bringing multiple forms of knowledge to the effort. However, doing so also brings the challenge of ambiguity, a type of uncertainty from the confusion among actors in the group over the concerning issues, problems and solutions; reflecting the many interpretations and meanings different actors bring to the modelling exercise. Ambiguity can be both a source of creativity and a source of conflict. While commonly overlooked during modelling, how ambiguity is resolved and embraced determines the quality of the participatory process supported by the modelling exercise, influencing what is being modeled and the outcomes generated. In this session we welcome contributions exploring methodological approaches or practical applications for coping with ambiguity in participatory modelling exercises.

C2: Application of Decision Support Tools for Integrated Water Resources Management

Organizers: Naomi Detenbeck, Amy Piscopo, Timothy Stagnitta

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) involves “a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems” (Global Water Partnership, 2000). Decision-support tools have been developed to facilitate application of IWRM and prioritization of multiple goals and objectives by communities and watershed management organizations. This session will provide a series of case studies describing application of various decision support tools for IWRM, including both single and multiple-objective optimization approaches. This session will complement the iEMSs 2018 workshop on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST; ).

C3: Get Your Game On: Use Serious Games to Model or Manage Natural Resources More Effectively

Organizers: Andre Dozier

It has been said ten thousand hours or five years of full-time work generates an expert. Coincidently, by age 21, the average 21st-century young adult has accumulated 10,000 hours of game play! This observation presents a window of learning opportunities through both educational learning games and games “with a purpose” for solving real-world problems. The benefits of serious games for scientific knowledge advancement and education have been shown clearly in several disciplines, but have yet to be thoroughly explored in managing natural resources. In this session, we will discuss contemporary and novel techniques that utilize games to enhance either current or future management of natural resources by i) applying direct results of serious gameplay and associated scientific learning, ii) training and educating a future generation on actions, consequences, and outcomes, and iii) engaging the public to improve their awareness of problems and solutions. We will discuss learning opportunities that games present for both gamers and resource managers.

C4: Building Urban Resilience of Coupled Infrastructure Systems              

Organizers: Marco A. Janssen, Luis A. Bojórquez

Urban areas experience diverse social and environmental challenges including climate change and globalization. Stakeholder groups use integrated models to explore the possible futures. Using these models can lead to improving social infrastructure (institutional capacity) and urban resilience. For this session we aim to bring together scholars who develop integrated models of urban systems and use them for policy support on topics like water governance, hurricane impacts, urban metabolism, urban heat effects, etc. Those models include both social dimensions (actions of residents, political economy, evacuations, and land use change) as well as biophysical dimensions (urban climate, water runoff, subsidence, and pollution).

C5: Participatory Modelling 2.0: Interfaces, Tools, Methods and Approaches for Linking Stakeholders Decisions, and Environmental Modelling

Organizers: Nagesh Kolagani, Alexey Voinov, Steven Gray, Miles McNall, Laura Schmitt-Olabisi

The popularity of participatory modelling (PM) has grown considerably in recent years with the acknowledgement that the inclusion of stakeholders and a variety of perspectives are required to improve our understanding of social-ecological systems and current environmental problems. Yet a vast gap exists between what scientists know and what managers, policy-makers and other decision-makers do. The proposed session (and the linked workshop) will focus on interfaces, tools, methods and approaches that can be used in participatory modelling and stakeholder interaction, and effectively lead to action-oriented outcomes. The session and workshop will also consider ways of engaging decision-makers and stakeholders in a modelling process and methods for embedding modelling into decision making. We seek to attract action researchers and practitioners to explore recent developments in modelling with stakeholders, and invite papers on such efforts and on visualization, analytics, interaction, documentation, recording, and conceptualizing technologies that can help in these efforts. By bringing together diverse perspectives, we hope to assess current trends in the field and define new questions that characterize future directions in PM. We invite abstracts and proposals that represent a wide range of perspectives, including those from computer scientists, social and natural scientists, and cognitive scientists as well as those of decision-makers, managers or stakeholder experts. Some potential questions appropriate for this session include: How can computer models and mental models be better integrated to support decision-making? How computer interfaces can assist in linking mental models with systems models? How can they be improved for that purpose? What role can cyber-platforms play in harnessing collective intelligence for ‘wicked problems’? How can model output be translated into terms meaningful for decision-makers?

C6: Ecosystem Services Values and Quantification: A Negotiation between Engineers, Economists, and Ecologists

Organizers: Marzieh Motallebi, Amy Landis, Ali Tasdighi, Mustapha Alhassan

This session will present both current research and practical tools/applications that are of interest to scientists and practitioners alike, particularly those working on valuing provisioning services of various ecosystems. Audiences will be exposed to critical thinking on ecological flows of ecosystem services and their valuation methods. Our session welcomes three topics: (1) Modelling and Mapping: we invite ecologists, modelers, and engineers to discuss methods for valuation of ecosystem services; (2) Implementation and Policy: we invite economists to discuss their research outcomes on socio-economic aspects of environmental market instruments; and (3) Challenges: we invite talks focusing on suggestions to overcome the challenges of services quantification.

C7: Integrated Modelling of Urban Ecosystems

Organizers: Stefan Reis (CEH, UK); Laurence Jones (CEH, UK); Jana Compton (US EPA, US)

Modelling Ecosystem Service (ES) provision requires the integration of models from different scientific domains to represent complex socio-ecological systems and should aim to capture both the potential service provided and the beneficiaries. Green infrastructure in cities is heavily designed and managed, providing the opportunity to deliver multiple services. In order to identify the potential synergies or unintended consequences of interventions, integrated modelling approaches are needed, making use of inter- and trans-disciplinary collaborations. For example, modelling the contribution of vegetation to air pollution removal, urban cooling, and flood mitigation covers several scientific disciplines. Consideration of how people benefit from ES also requires input from psychology, economics, and social sciences. Interventions affecting the spatial configuration of green infrastructure involve engagement with stakeholders, civic society and planning authorities. However, many ES approaches fail to join these different components adequately. This session invites contributions covering the application of modelling approaches linking multiple services and beneficiaries, focusing on ES in urban environments.

C8: Ecosystem Services in a Context of Global Change: Quantification and Socio-economic Evaluation

Organizers: Sabine Sauvage (CNRS, France), José-Miguel Sanchez-Pérez (CNRS, France), Magali Gérino (UPS, France)

According to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), sustainability of the water and river basins subject to management plans requires setting priority on the “environmental requirements when facing socio-economic targets”.  In this context, it proposes to reconcile the water demand of society (drinking water, agriculture, industry, cities, leisure, etc.) with the ecological needs of rivers.  In turn, ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits that humans freely gain from the natural environment.  These natural benefits must be taken into account when studying the water management plans in a context of global change.  For water resources, the related ecosystem services belong to provisioning, regulation, and cultural categories. In this session, we will focus on modelling platforms and methodologies using tools integrating ecosystem services and their socio-economic evaluation to better analyze and manage water resources in changing global environment.  We encourage examples of innovative analyses of factors placing considerable pressure on this resource, studies dealing with mitigating tensions around its use, and innovative methods to quantify services regulating use and their economic evaluation.  We invite contributions describing new platforms combining assessment of the catchment’s water needs (drinking water, agriculture, industry, and environmental flows) and socio-economy valuations using numerical models that simulate the stocks and flow of water at different scales of the catchment.  The simulations assessing a range of future climate scenarios to anticipate water needs from a social and environmental perspective.

C9: Integrated Modelling and Scenario Development as Analytical Tools for Exploring the Food-Energy-Water Nexus (FEW-Nexus)

Organizers: Rüdiger Schaldach, Jennifer Koch

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) portray different dimensions of sustainable development. An important target is the secure provision of food, water, and energy for an increasing world population. Given the complex relationships between these three domains, an integrated approach beyond disciplinary thinking is required to improve our understanding the function of this food-energy-water nexus (FEW-Nexus) and generate knowledge that can be translated into effective decision making, e.g., analyses of trade-offs between SDGs. Integrated modelling and scenario development are powerful tools for investigating the linkages between society and environment within the FEW-Nexus for both current and future conditions. The objective of the proposed session is to introduce and discuss new approaches to integrated modelling related to the FEW-Nexus and to present and discuss state-of-the-art case studies across varying spatial and temporal scales. Particular emphasis lies on the application of models in the context scenario analyses to inform decision-making processes.

C10: Modeling Urban Water Demand and the Potential Impact of Water Demand Reduction Strategies

Organizers: Sybil Sharvelle, Claire Welty

As pressures on water supplies such as population growth and climate change are ever increasing, the need arises to better understand urban water demand and assess the potential water demand reduction that can be achieved via water conservation and reuse strategies. Models have been developed across the world to address this need.  Possible topics to be covered in this session include demand forecasting for residential and commercial, industrial and institutional water users, assessing socio-economic factors that impact water use, assessing the potential of water demand reduction strategies to increase reliability and resilience of water supplies and life cycle cost and environmental impacts of water conservation and reuse strategies.  Use of alternate water supplies such as treated wastewater, graywater and stormwater are of particular interest.

C11: Integrated Methods and Tools for Flood Risk and Water Supply Management

Organizers: Andrea Sulis, Giovanni Sechi, Thomas Wild

Although Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is probably thought mostly in terms of policies and plans for water supply and water quality, a comprehensive approach to water resource management in keeping with IWRM principles should properly include flood and flood risk management as well. There is an urgent need to develop and apply new interfaces, methods and approaches that integrate the IWRM goals in the face of increasing demands and uncertainties. This session is aimed at bringing together scientists, modelers, analysts and managers interested in flood risk management and water supply management in multi-purpose reservoir systems, in the expectation that synergies will be developed in the integrated use of specialized modelling tools. Both quantitative and qualitative contributions, in both management and research settings, are welcome.  

C12: Connecting Environment, Technology, and Society: Integrated Decision Support Tools for System-Level Analysis

Organizers: Ali Tasdighi, Andre Dozier

Effective environmental management requires several decisions addressing a suite of technical, economic, and social concerns. The vital and challenging process of making decisions faces uncertainty and multiple and often conflicting objectives. Although each environmental remediation problem is unique and requires a site-specific analysis, many of the key decisions are similar in structure. This has led many to attempt to develop integrated environmental modelling tools. These tools can facilitate reproducible and transparent decision making and also can be useful for establishing and rationalizing management processes. Integrated assessment and modelling of environmental systems also entails various challenges. A closed system approach traditionally modeled in a silo, assuming constant or exogenous driving variables from other systems, may no longer be capable of answering certain questions, particularly related to macroscale issues including non-point source pollution and resource allocation, among many others. In this session, we will discuss the lessons learned from multiple integrated modelling case studies and the research knowledge gained. We invite researchers from various disciplines involved in environmental management to participate in this session and present their cutting edge research, ideas, and tools.  

C13: Modeling Urban Water-Energy Systems Coupling Engineering and Earth System Science Approaches

Organizers: Claire Welty, Sybil Sharvelle

Traditional modeling of urban water systems has focused on pipe flows, i.e., modeling associated with engineering design and operation of water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.  A more holoistic approach to modeling the urban water cycle includes coupling of piped systems with the energy cycle as well as interactions with vegetation, urban soils, and geology.  High-resolution spatial and temporal data sets (lidar, satellite, high-frequency sensors) have become more routinely available for characterizing urban surfaces and water/energy fluxes; these data can be used as input to coupled water-energy models at finely-gridded scales over large spatial extents. Possible topics for inclusion in this session are: assimilation of “big data” into coupled urban water-energy models; how to best store, access, and visualize three-dimensional model output; coupling of urban water-energy models with models of biogeochemical cycles; use of water-energy coupled models in urban design; how data generated by “smart city” approaches can be utilized in water-energy models; modeling interactions of leaky pipe infrastructure with the urban water cycle.

C14: Towards Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Collaboration in Environmental Modelling: Innovative Practices to Address Wicked Problems

Organizers: Joyce Wu, Samantha Stone-Jovicich, Susan Cuddy, Nicky Grigg

Collaborations integrating interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and approaches into environmental modelling can enrich the ways in which environmental modelling considers research design, implementation, and data analysis. This can add context, depth, and accuracy to environmental modelling thus enhancing the models and their data for complex decision-making and policy formulation. The increase in the complexity of the challenges we face (i.e. wicked problems such as cross boundary water management), requires that environmental modelling embraces a range of collaborations. This ranges from integration of traditional discipline-based knowledge to fields that transcend disciplines and science-practice boundaries such as gender studies and monitoring and evaluation. This session is a call for researchers and practitioners who have been engaging in innovative, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration in environmental modelling, with topics including but not limited to: (1) integration of gender, power relations and inequity; (2) integration of intersectionality (e.g. water, food, energy nexus): (3) qualitative-quantitative methodologies; (4) balancing expert-driven and participatory approaches; and (5) the role of monitoring, evaluation & learning (MEL), and other similar approaches, in supporting greater flexibility and adaption in modelling practices.

C15: Does Data and Science Make a Difference for Better Decisions in Environmental Management?

Organizers: Willem Vervoort, Suzanne A Pierce, Joseph Guillaume, Tony Jakeman, Ioannis Athanasiadis, Gabriele Bammer, Amy Richmond

In IWRM case applications and research, the goal is to achieve effective exchange of knowledge among participants and subject matter experts, in order to improve reasoning and substantive dialogue about the water resource management issues in question. The pinnacle achievement is actual science-based decisions informed by the best science and social science possible and supported by well-reasoned deliberation among decision makers and stakeholders. However, during this process there are many points in which the link between science and stakeholder consultation can be lost, leading to sub-optimal outcomes. Some of these ‘broken links’ are related to lack of data and limits to modelling capacity but they can also be related to weaknesses in the modelling approach taken and in engagement processes between scientists and​ ​the​ ​suite​ ​of​ ​stakeholder​ ​groups. How do we identify the ‘broken links’ and how can we improve integration of biophysical sciences and social sciences relevant to the IWRM process? Are there examples where artificial intelligence applications, intelligent systems, data fusion, and big data have played a critical role or led to a better decision/outcome link to IWRM, and are there examples where a more fit-for-purpose modelling approach and/or set of engagement and communication processes​ ​would​ ​have​ ​made​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​. This session invites presentations of IWRM experiences related to: (1) examples of science driven and stakeholder driven IWRM outcomes; when does the science matter, and when should the stakeholder process dominate; (2) what questions can and cannot be answered with the available science; how can we be sure that our models are ‘good’ enough (Oreskes et al. 1994); how can we assure that the best possible/available science is appropriately used to inform IWRM processes; (3) what is the role of the expert in assuring that all different aspects of IWRM are included in the modelling efforts; what drives the model development in practice and what’s really needed; (4) how is the modelling used in developing the actual decisions and actions by stakeholders; identifying and comparing useful and novel tools for visualization, communication of results, and facilitation; can we display the results effectively so stakeholders can make decisions and rank alternatives; (5) what’s the role of open science in transitioning IWRM from emerging research into an accessible research focus with accepted practices, standards, and curricula?

Stream D: Modeling Environmental Fate of Contaminants, Human Well-being and Public Health

Anthropogenic activities and management of natural resources have vital implications for human and ecological health, and well-being of our communities. Furthermore, extreme events can have profound impacts on human health, shattering the most vulnerable communities and instilling enormous costs on governments and economies.   This stream focuses on modelling efforts to address these challenges.


D1: Environmental Fluid Mechanics – Theoretical, Modelling, and Experimental Approaches

Organizers: C.Gualtieri, D.T.Mihailovic, S.Wakes

Environmental Fluid Mechanics (EFM) is the scientific study of transport, dispersion and transformation processes in natural fluid flows on our planet Earth, from the microscale to the planetary scale. Stratification and turbulence are two essential ingredients of EFM. Stratification occurs when the density of the fluid varies spatially, as in a sea breeze where masses of warm and cold air lie next to each other or in an estuary where fresh river water flows over saline seawater. Turbulence is the term used to characterize the complex, seemingly random motions that continually result from instabilities in fluid flows. Turbulence is ubiquitous in natural fluid flows because of the large scales that these flows typically occupy. The processes studied by EFM are of paramount importance for the environmental quality of the natural air and water systems as well of the urban systems interacting with the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. For this session papers reporting observational, experimental, numerical and theoretical investigations would be welcome.  The session will be organized in two parts: Theoretical and Numerical aspects (Part 1) and Applicative, Software and Experimental issues (Part 2).  Topics include:

  • Diffusion, turbulent dispersion and mixing of environmental contaminants in natural and engineered water systems and in the atmosphere
  • Processes at the environmental interfaces in soil, atmosphere and natural waters
  • Turbulent flows
  • Nonlinear processes in environmental fluid mechanics
  • Complexity of environmental interfaces models
  • Two-phase and multiphase flows
  • Processes for energy production
  • Stratified flows
  • Transport of water and chemicals in the soil
  • Water quality processes in surface and sub-surface systems


D2: Extreme Events: Improve Predictability, Increase Resilience, and Address Knowledge Gaps

Organizers: Hamed Majidzadeh, Farhad Jazai, Marzieh Motallebi, Alex Chow

Research, applications, and best management practices are needed to improve predictability, increase resilience and address knowledge gaps related to impacts of extreme events such as hurricanes, severe storms, and wildfires on surface and groundwater quality. This session invites researchers with diverse backgrounds to discuss three main topics:   (1) Prediction:  Research findings, tools, and applications that improve our capability to model and forecast impacts of extreme events on surface and groundwater resources quality; (2) Increase resilience:  Best management practices, tools, and water treatment techniques to increase the resilience of soil and water resources against changing climate and extreme events including but not limited to fires and hurricanes; (3) Fundamental Processes:  Research findings that can improve our understanding of fundamental processes that lead to changes in surface and groundwater quality as a result of changing climate and related extreme events.  

D3: Modelling Ecological Public Health Risks Across Scales

Organizers: Stefan Reis, Miguel Villareal, Laura Norman

Risks to human health and well-being are often modified through a wide range of environmental pathways. The fate of contaminants, e.g. air and water pollutants, in the environment and the transmission and exposure of human populations to these contaminants require complex, integrated modelling approaches to identify sources of risks, as well as strategies and measures to address them. In many cases, such pathways map across different environmental media (air, water, soil) and affect a wide range of exposure routes (e.g. drinking water, food). The concept of ecological public health and its implementation places particular emphasis on the interconnectedness between human and environmental health, as in many cases, human health risks are affected by interactions between contaminants and environmental assets. This session invites presentations covering the development, application and integration of models and model frameworks addressing ecological public health risks with a specific emphasis on modelling across spatial (and temporal) scales.  

Stream E: Modeling for Planetary Health and Environmental Sustainability

Significant progress in public health, agricultural, industrial, and technical advancements over the past century has improved health and wellbeing of billions of people. However, increased access and consumption have increased pressures on natural resources and has taken a toll on land, air, and water resources. This stream focuses on new theoretical advancements or novel applications of environmental models for solving planetary health and environmental challenges at various spatial and temporal scales.


E1: Coupled Surface-Subsurface Hydrologic Modelling

Organizers: Ryan Bailey, Nigel Quinn

In many watersheds, a thorough understanding of land surface hydrology, groundwater hydrology, and the interaction between the two is essential for sustainable water management. Many modeling tools have been developed in recent years to simulate these processes and quantify the effect of water management practices and climate on water resource availability and nutrient contamination. Such models include ParFlow, CATHY, VIC, SWAT, and SWAT-MODFLOW. This session invites presentations on recent studies aimed at simulating surface/subsurface hydrologic processes in watersheds and river basins using coupled flow model approach. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the effect of land use, human activities, climate change, and land management practices on groundwater resources, surface water resources, and the interaction between groundwater and surface water.

E2: Beyond the Channel – Modelling Crucial Interfaces of Fluvial Processes

Organizers: Carlo Gualtieri, Tao Sun, Dongdong Shao

Rivers are cradles of human civilization, and continuously provide critical ecosystem services such as water supply, irrigation, navigation, habitat, etc, to human society. Due to climate change and anthropogenic impacts, many rivers worldwide have experienced regime shifts in fluvial processes, which often affects their health and delivery of services. Complementary to flow and sediment regimes in the main channel, this session will focus on modelling studies that are concerned with crucial interfaces of fluvial processes, including confluence, hyporheic zone, floodplain and estuary, that also play important roles in maintaining the health and functioning of rivers and interfacing ecosystems. modelling studies concerning the relevant processes and mechanisms that characterize these interfacing zones are particularly welcome. This session aims to provide an interdisciplinary platform for modelers with varying backgrounds to meet and discuss on the scientific and technical problems involved, as well as the implications for river management and restoration.

E3: Complexity, Sensitivity, and Uncertainty Issues in Integrated Environmental Models

Organizers: Giorgio Mannina, Francesca Pianosi, Timothy Green, Thorsten Wagener, Olaf David

The purpose of the following session is to provide a forum for a group of presentations focusing on complexity, sensitivity, and uncertainty issues in integrated environmental models. The session offers an opportunity for: 1) investigating what complexity and uncertainty mean for models and the way we approach modelling, i.e., how do we meet the challenge of solving modelling problems where time delays, feedback loops, non-linearity, and system interconnectedness increase complexity and make prediction particularly difficult; 2) increasing awareness of the significance of various sensitivity and uncertainty analysis techniques in the development and application of integrated environmental models; and 3) discussing and critically evaluating the contribution of these techniques to improved modelling of environmental systems. Objectives include communicating state-of-the-art information on complexity, sensitivity, and uncertainty methodologies, and identifying research directions and potential collaborations for improving these methods in the context of integrated environmental modelling. Suitable complexity, sensitivity, and uncertainty topics for the session include, but are not limited to: Model Complexity

  • How to address “problems of scale” for complex models (e.g., how to express, evaluate, and understand the results of complex models).
  • Identification of the relationships between model complexity and external factors such as computational performance, simulation software, visualization/animation capabilities, modeler expertise, etc.

 Sensitivity Analysis

  • The use of sensitivity analysis (SA) to gain insights into key sources of uncertainty in order to prioritize additional data collection or research efforts, increase understanding of model behavior, and provide insights for model calibration and model reduction.
  • Practical strategies for local/global SA given models with large parameter sets or high computational requirements: design of experiment, emulation techniques, monitoring and improving convergence and accuracy.
  • Key criteria in selecting SA methods for different modelling structures and problems.
  • Integration of probabilistic and non-probabilistic approaches to expand SA to unquantifiable sources of uncertainty like model structure, modelling assumptions, “value” parameters, etc.
  • Visualization techniques for effective communication of SA results.
  • Limitations and promising new advances/directions for SA methodologies in environmental models.

 Uncertainty Analysis

  • Scale effects in uncertainty analysis (UA) of integrated environmental models.
  • Uncertainty propagation in complex, environmental models with large parameter sets or high computational requirements.
  • Development and evaluation of UA methods that appropriately consider subjective and qualitative factors.
  • Evaluation of uncertainty in model outputs with respect to decision making or risk management objectives.
  • Assessing and quantifying information requirements (e.g., theories, data, models) to reduce predictive uncertainty in environmental models.
  • Methods for identifying and managing structural uncertainty and bias in integrated environmental models.
  • Assessment of uncertainty in socio-economic models.


E4: Methods and Approaches to Modelling Socio-Ecological Dynamics in the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin

Organizers: Plassin Sophie, Koch Jennifer, Vaché Kellie, Paladino Stephanie, Friedman Jack

The transboundary Rio Grande/Bravo Basin (RGB) is emblematic of semiarid watersheds, where projected climate change and population growth could deeply affect the sustainability of ecosystems, livelihoods, and water resources. Scenario-driven, integrated models that capture the interplay between ecological and social dynamics can improve our understanding and representation of real systems and provide decision support for sustainable river ecosystems and water management. However, modelling the RGB poses substantial challenges due to its large size, binational nature, and complexity of social and hydrological processes. The session will draw together the international RGB research community to address four critical topics: i) insights from methods, tools and approaches for modelling a section or the whole RGB; ii) integration of knowledge from social and natural sciences in model development; iii) linking human and natural dynamics across spatial and temporal scales; iv) model applications to support sustainable river ecosystems and water management.

Stream F: System Identification Approaches for Complex Environmental Systems

Over the past three decades, significant theoretical and computational advancements have been made that facilitate identification, characterization and quantification of criticalities, thresholds, and risks associated with coupled natural-human systems. This stream focuses on theories, approaches, algorithms, software tools, and activities that facilitate understanding uncertainties and risks at the system level, system identification, and data assimilation.


F1: Understanding User Uncertainty in Complex modelling          

Organizers: Charles Ehlschlaeger, Jim Westervelt

Imprecise data, divergent stochastic processes, or when there are no system model(s) that clearly are appropriate for a specific course of action analysis contain difficult challenges for designing and implementing the model, as well as communicating risks and uncertainties to decision makers. While some environmental models have high levels of uncertainty in the inputs, this is especially true for social models containing complex demographic inputs with large ranges of potential input values and those with conflicting theories of human behavior. This session will focus on environmental and/or quantitative social research presenting the construction of complex models with deep uncertainty in either data, process, or both, and how these model results can be communicated to people without experience in uncertainty analysis.

F2: Model-based Support for Designing Adaptive Policy Pathways

Organizers: Marjolijn Haasnoot, Jan Kwakkel, Pat Reed, Jon Herman

The policy pathways metaphor is gaining traction in various domains.  Examples include transition pathways, adaptation pathways, emission reduction pathways, and climate resilient development pathways. Common to these is that policies are conceptualized as sequences of actions taken over time in response to changing conditions. Flexibility in, and learning during, the implementation of policies are used as means for achieving satisficing outcomes in the face of uncertainty and complexity. Despite the increasing usage, limited cross-fertilization is taking place amongst application in the different domains. Moreover, existing model-based decision support approaches are ill equipped to support the design of adaptive policy pathways, since their design needs to account for many deep uncertainties over time, a plurality of (changing) values, and the fact that the realization of a pathway over time is critically dependent on a concerted effort by multiple actors. This session aims at bringing together researchers working on the development of novel model-based approaches for designing policy pathways from different domains.  

F3: Modelling and Decision Making Under Uncertainty

Organizers: Mary Hill , Holger Maier, Saman Razavi, Jiri Nossent

Uncertainty is an intrinsic part of environmental modelling and the legitimacy and utility of modelling for decision making is influenced by how different sources of uncertainty are addressed and propagated through the model. Therefore, this session aims to share information on advances in uncertainty and sensitivity analysis methods, approaches and case studies to promote explicit and reasoned consideration of uncertainty. We welcome both quantitative and qualitative contributions, in both management and research settings.  Examples of quantitative techniques include (but are not limited to) those associated with:

  • deep uncertainty
  • scenario analysis
  • multi-criteria analysis
  • exploratory modelling
  • expert elicitation
  • use of multiple working hypotheses
  • multi-model ensembles
  • sensitivity analysis

 Examples of qualitative techniques include (but are not limited to):

  • discussion and communication of limitations
  • assessment of model pedigree
  • assessment and quantification of information requirements
  • identification of future research needs


F4: Replicability and Reproducibility in Research:  From Vaporware to Software in Environmental Computing

Organizers: Riccardo Rigon, Bancheri Marialaura, Francesco Serafin, Giuseppe Formetta

Science must be reproducible and replicable. Words alone are not sufficient to the development of further systematic investigations. Every scientist should be able to exercise the experiments another has conducted, go through the mathematics developed and obtain the same results as presented in the manuscript. Nevertheless, this statement is not as easy to achieve as it sounds, and is usually dismissed by most researchers. What should a mindful researcher do to improve reproducibility and replicability of her/his investigations? This session focuses on the demonstration and sharing of ideas involving the best practices towards reproducibility and replicability in environmental computing. Scientists are invited to submit abstracts describing their novel approaches to keep track of source code development, related documentation and testing environment.  

F5: New and Improved Methods in Agricultural Systems Modelling

Organizers: Val Snow, Dean Holzworth, Ioannis Athanasiadis

Sustainable food-energy-water systems and emerging technologies raise challenges for modelling agricultural systems. We must move beyond modelling uniform fields of annual crops to address the issues at the core of this Congress. Models must be designed to deal with complex production systems: which vary spatially (e.g. widely-spaced agroforestry, skip-row cropping); where management exacerbates heterogeneity (e.g. residue management in oil palm plantations, nutrient transfers by livestock); or where the boundaries of the spatial unit are fluid in time (e.g. land that is a community resource). Agricultural models and their software need to be continually improved to accommodate these needs. We encourage submissions that focus on new/improved methods/approaches (rather than examples of usage) in order that the agricultural modellers can learn as a community.  This session will be followed by a workshop for an informal sharing of ideas. We will assess if there is scope for a publication based on the workshop.