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.

A100: SWAT-MODFLOW Workshop for Coupled Surface-Subsurface Hydrologic Modelling

Organizers: Ryan Bailey, Seonggyu Park

This workshop will introduce the SWAT-MODFLOW modelling code and guide users through construction and use of a SWAT-MODFLOW model. The basics of both SWAT and MODFLOW will be covered, followed by the process of coupling the models for surface-subsurface hydrologic modelling. The workshop will guide attendees through SWAT model construction using QGIS, linking with an existing MODFLOW model using GIS routines, running SWAT-MODFLOW, and visualizing results. This will be followed by training on the use of a new QGIS-based graphical user interface for SWAT-MODFLOW modelling. Methods for including solute transport (e.g. nitrate) in the modelling framework also will be covered. The end of the workshop will be designated for users with existing SWAT and MODFLOW models that would like help in linking and running their models.

Participants should have a basic knowledge of ArcGIS or QGIS. Attendees should bring their own laptop with QGIS already installed.


A101: Modelling Uncertainty in Geographic Information Analysis

Organizers: Charles (Chuck) Ehlschlaeger,  Olaf David

Geographic Information Systems (GISystems), while providing a standard methodology for solving many spatial applications, have been plagued with deterministic applications and thematic data layers that, at best, provide a qualitative understanding of the errors and uncertainties associated with those data layers. Current GISystems also lack visualization tools that easily represent the uncertainties associated with performing GISystem analyses. This “”chicken and egg”” problem is caused by a lack of data layers with explicit quantitative uncertainty measures nor GISystem applications that can automatically combine data uncertainty measures with application uncertainty measures to produce outputs with explicit uncertainty representations. Finally, GISystems lack visualization techniques to easily represent these uncertainty analyses.

This workshop will provide a hands-on demonstration of a GISystem that provides this uncertainty functionality. Demographic and social factor data layers will be provided that contains explicit uncertainty metrics. GISystem commands from GRASS will be incorporated into the Framework for Incorporating Complex Uncertainty Systems (FICUS), which is built on top of the Open modelling System (OMS). We will also present a web based visualization tool to present the results of this uncertainty quantifying GISystem.


A102: A Community Framework for Next Generation Integrative Modelling

Organizers: Michael Barton, Allen Lee, Eric Hutton (pending)

We need integrative modelling of coupled human-earth systems that can represent variable combinations of system processes at multiple scales to help us better understand today’s humanized planet scientifically, to manage it sustainably, and to appropriately address scientific and policy issues and evaluate their outcomes. All software systems accumulate technical debt over time and the first generation of computational models and platforms developed to help us explore and understand biophysical and social systems dynamics are no exception.

We propose a new community framework to support an ecosystem of diverse models as components that can be connected as needed to facilitate understanding of a range of complex human-earth system interactions. Models can be incrementally improved to be containerized in Docker and then adapted to conform the CSDMS Basic modelling Interface (BMI) and Standard Names ontology to map and wire their inputs and outputs together. This is part of a larger effort to convert relevant models into reusable computational chunks that can be queried, reparameterized, or embedded in larger computational pipelines and workflows with multiple feedbacks.

This workshop will involve a series of short presentations followed by a group/panel discussion, possibly feeding into a hackathon.


A103: Introduction to SWAT+, a completely restructured version of the SWAT model

Organizers: Jeffrey G. Arnold, Katrin Bieger, Michael J. White, and Ryan Bailey

Over the past 20 years, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) has become widely used across the globe. The large numbers of applications across the globe have also revealed limitations and identified model development needs. Numerous additions and modifications of the model and its individual components have made the code increasingly difficult to manage and maintain.  In order to face present and future challenges in water resources modeling SWAT code has undergone major modifications over the past few years, resulting in SWAT+, a completely revised version of the model.  Even though the basic algorithms used to calculate the processes in the model have not changed, the structure and organization of both the code (object based) and the input files (relational based) have undergone considerable modification. This is expected to facilitate model maintenance, future code modifications, and foster collaboration with other researchers to integrate new science into SWAT modules.  SWAT+ provides a more flexible spatial representation of interactions and processes within a watershed.

This workshop discusses: 1) the new relational input file structure, 2) improved connectivity between watershed objects, 3) linkage with MODFLOW for comprehensive surface/groundwater simulations, and 4) application of SWAT+ in national conservation assessment in the U.S.


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.


B100: eRAMS Web-based GIS Platform

Organizers: Mazdak Arabi, Kyle Traff, Olaf David, Tyler Wible, Theresa Conner, Jae Sung Kim

The Environmental Resource Assessment and Management System (eRAMS) platform enables building accessible and scalable analytical tools and simulation models that can be accessed via desktop or mobile devices. The eRAMS “RoundTrip” workflow facilitates development of web apps using the platform. eRAMS provides three options for development of collaborative projects, integrating geospatial data, analytics, and modeling engines, addressing a range of app development needs with varying levels of complexity.

  1. eRAMS Create: use this incredibly simple workflow to upload geospatial layers, attach documents, and include time series. The platform allows basic HTML integration to give your geospatially enabled webpage the look and feel you desire.
  2. eRAMS RoundTrip: use this platform to develop apps with simple analytics and modeling tools. This platform requires familiarity with Python, Javascript, CSS and HTML.
  3. eRAMS CSIP: The Cloud Services Integration Platform (CSIP) empowers users to integrate more complex analytics and modeling services.

This workshop will provide participants (with notebook/browser) a hands-on introduction to using the eRAMS platform. 


B102: Seventh Workshop on Data Mining as a Tool for Environmental Scientists (W-DMTES-2018)

Organizers: Karina Gibert (fiEMSs), Joaquín Izquierdo, Miquel Sànchez-Marrè (fiEMSs) , Serena (Chen) Hamilton

This workshop (W-DMTES-2018) aims to provide a global perspective of the complete and complex process of transforming raw data into really useful decisional knowledge in environmental domains.  Data Mining and Data Science processes transform the data into relevant information, and permits to induce decisional knowledge from it, even taking into account the doctrinae corpus in the target  domain, when available. This knowledge can be used to provide rational support to the complex decision making process in front of high levels of uncertainty, multifactor influences and, eventually, different experts opinions, providing highly powerful tools for better knowledge of environmental systems as well as better control and management.

This workshop is in close connection with SDMTES-2018 session, and pretends to promote the interaction among the Environmental Sciences, the Data Mining and Data Science, and related areas, like Big Data, or Intelligent Decision Support Systems, as well as to make data mining techniques, data science processes and related more accessible to environmental modellers and to give data miners and knowledge engineers a better idea of the needs and desires of the environmental community. As a main discussion topic, this year, the contributions of Data Science and data mining to sustainable food, energy and water systems will be addressed, with special emphasis on the real added value of considering big data in these contexts, as well as real needs and availability of big data for specific applications. Participants in S-DMTES’2018 are specially invited to take active participation in this workshop.


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.


C100: eRAMS Online Tools for Integrated Resource Management

Organizers: Mazdak Arabi, Tyler Wible, Jae Sung Kim, Theresa Conner, David Patterson, Kyle Traff

eRAMS Online provides web services for sustainable management of land, water, and energy resources to assist strategic and tactical decision-making at multiple scales. The components of the software include:

  • Content Management System (eRAMS CMS): Managing documents and files (e.g. PDF, Word, Spreadsheet) online, seamlessly accessible from desktop and mobile devices.
  • GIS and Mapping (eRAMS GIS): Creating, organizing, sharin, and managing location based information with options for attaching time-series data.
  • Analysis and Modeling (eRAMS Apps): Accessing apps for planning and management of water, land, and energy resources
  • Collaboration System (eRAMS Groups): Creating groups, sharing data, and publishing resources.

This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to the capabilities of eRAMS Online Tools.  Participants are expected to bring their notebooks for test driving the tools.


C101: Participatory Modelling, Ambiguity and the Challenges of Being Inclusive – Workshop

Organizers: Marcela Brugnach, Raffaele Giordano

In addition to the session Participatory Modelling, Ambiguity and the Challenges of Being Inclusive, we will hold a workshop to discuss in more depth how ambiguity is (or is not) addressed in participatory modelling. Participants are invited to bring their modelling experiences with ambiguity, based on which we will discuss the issues related to three questions: (1) How can we better integrate ambiguity in a modelling exercise? (2) How can we solve the dichotomy between a) aggregating different stakeholders’ framings; b) modelling individual behaviors and decision processes? (3) How can we account for the dynamics of framing and re-framing -subject to change as a result of learning process- in a participatory modelling exercise?


C102: Decision Support for Integrated Water Resources Management         

Organizers: Naomi Detenbeck, Amy Piscopo, Timothy Stagnitta

This hands-on workshop will provide an introduction to US Environmental Protection Agency’s Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST). WMOST is designed to facilitate the application of integrated water resources management (IWRM) by communities, utilities, and watershed organizations, looking across stormwater (both grey and green infrastructure approaches), wastewater, drinking water, and land conservation practices to find the most cost-effective suite of management practices ( WMOST allows users to minimize cost while meeting water quantity and quality goals. The workshop will include a brief introduction to IWRM, an overview of WMOST, discussions of the WMOST process, model scenarios, tool validation and troubleshooting, single and multiple-objective optimization and future directions.

Workshop participants will be provided with a CD of tool files and background documentation to load onto their laptops. Exercises will be provided for a simple case study that participants can set up and run during the workshop.


C103: Creating a Solution Book of Core Modelling Practices             

Organizers: Joseph Guillaume, Suzanne Pierce, Sondoss Elsawah, Anthony Jakeman

Integrated modelling and assessment by definition requires bringing together a broad range of methods, concepts and knowledge. Our task would be much easier if there were a reference to which we could turn that summarizes current knowledge about core modelling practices: what problem they solve, when they are appropriate, and how to implement them. This kind of “”solution book”” would provide a handy checklist for analysts and reviewers, a centralized database to consolidate our interdisciplinary knowledge, and a place newcomers can be directed for a concise introduction to any method.

This workshop invites participants to contribute to an ongoing community effort to make this a reality. The workshop will provide training on use of the solution book and the structured template used to document modelling practices. We will then facilitate collaborative efforts to improve the documentation of practices related to selected priority areas.


C104: 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 there is still a vast gap between what scientists know and what managers, policy-makers and other decision-makers do.

The workshop (and linked session) 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 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 discussion on such efforts and on visualization, analytics, interaction, documentation, recording, conceptualizing, etc. 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 those representing a wide range of perspectives, including 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 the workshop 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? 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?


C105: Making Meaningful Models: Partnering with Stakeholders Throughout the Modelling Process

Organizers: Miles McNall, Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Steven Gray, Renee Wallace, Artina Sadler, Laura Basco Carrera, Eskedar Gebremedhin.

Participatory modelling has gained prominence as a process for integrating stakeholder knowledge with scientific information, increasing buy-in for management and policy decisions, and supporting social learning. Yet these modelling processes are still overwhelmingly designed and led by modelers, raising questions about whose interests the modelling process serves. How can we design modelling efforts as true partnerships in which stakeholders and modelers both feel their voices are heard and their needs are met? What are the perspectives of different partners on the model-building partnership? How can “communities of practice” be useful in helping conceptualize such partnerships? What resources are needed to sustain partnerships? What capacity building needs to take place in communities to support modelling partnerships?

We will explore these questions through a panel discussion on two participatory modelling case studies focused on an urban livestock ordinance in Detroit and the causes, consequences and solutions to the Flint Water Crisis.


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.


D100: Water Quality Modelling: A Stocktake of Needs and Ways Forward for Supporting Decision Making

Organizers: Tony Jakeman, Ann van Griensven, Martin Volk, Tim Green, Val Snow

It seems that progress in the science of water quality modelling has somewhat stalled. There is just a handful of models being applied for supporting management and policy. The main ones being used, however, are heavily and arbitrarily over-parameterized with respect to the problem context, data and prior knowledge available, and tend to be applied with insufficient rigor that considers and prioritizes the various sources of uncertainty. These features present problems for uncertainty quantification of predictions despite the availability and increasing use of algorithms that attempt to characterize model sensitivities and uncertainties.

The aims of the workshop are, for any watershed-scale quality modelling exercise designed to support management and policy, to:

  1. Summarize the types of process and empirical representations that should largely apply in key problem contexts, especially taking into account land and water management alternatives/scenarios
  2. Articulate the factors that need to be addressed in developing and applying models and the steps that can be taken
  3. Argue the case for a more holistic approach to uncertainty assessment for the specific quantities of interest, including quantitative and qualitative methods and adherence to a fulsome emphasis on the technical and social aspects of the modelling procedure adopted
  4. Propose opportunities for the investigation of emerging technologies that might progress uncertainty quantification

We anticipate the main emphasis will be on constituents that relate to sediments and nutrients but this focus may broaden depending on interests.


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.


E100: Web-Based Integrated Wind and Water Soil Erosion Simulation Tools

Organizers: Jack Carlson, Olaf David, Justin Mount, Larry Wagner, Jim Frankenberger, Joel Poore

This workshop provides a hands-on introduction to the water and wind erosion tools of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) running the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) and Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) models deployed as web services on a cloud computing platform, supporting technical assistance provided by field conservationists in 2,800 agency county offices. Three applications will be featured: Integrated Erosion Tool (IET); WEPS Online, and WEPP Online, all fetching data from common soil, climate, and crop rotation data stores. In addition to running any of the three applications, participants will be able to look behind the scenes at the backend service and data architecture supporting their deployment and operation.

Those wanting to test drive IET will need to have ArcMap 10.3 (or 10.5) on a Windows 7 or 10 notebook.  We will provide a sample farm field layer to get started. Those without ArcMap will be able to run WEPS Online and WEPP Online from their browser.

A more detailed introduction to the WEPS model will be covered in a companion workshop.


E101: New and Improved Methods in Agricultural Systems Modelling

Organizers: Val Snow, Dean Holzworth, Ioannis Athanasiadis

This workshop follows on from the session “New and Improved Methods in Agricultural Systems Modelling”. That session includes papers which focus on new/improved methods/approaches for modelling the complicated realities of agricultural systems that currently stymie our agricultural models.

In an informal setting we will canvass for approaches that have been successful for dealing with complicated agricultural systems. However we are just as interested in those approaches that have been tried but that have failed – or perhaps just not been successful yet. The intention is that this will be an opportunity for modellers to discuss these issues and learn as a community. We will also assess if there is scope for a publication based on the workshop.


E102: Applying WEPS for Field Scale Soil and Water Conservation Management

Organizers: Larry Wagner (ARS), John Tatarko (ARS), Fred Fox (ARS) and Joel Poore (NRCS)

The Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) is a field scale, process based wind erosion model originally requested by the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and developed by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS). It replaces the older empirical Wind Erosion Equation previously used by NRCS for field level soil conservation and wind erosion susceptibility assessments. The model simulates daily changes to the surface/soil/vegetative “state” and subdaily soil water movement, based upon daily climatic inputs and hourly wind speeds. WEPS is sensitive to management effects, tillage, planting, harvesting, irrigation, etc. and is ideal for evaluating alternative cropping systems and management practices to conserve water and reduce the risk for wind erosion.

Participants are expected to bring their own computers suitable for running WEPS as Java Web Start application.


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.


F100: First Workshop for an iEMSs Special Interest Group on Uncertainty Management and Model Assessment

Organizers: Joseph Guillaume, iEMSs Uncertainty Management and Model Assessment Special Interest Group

Uncertainty and model assessment is a core topic in environmental modelling. A number of iEMSs members have a strong methodological interest in this area, and have ensured it is well represented at every meeting, as well as collaborating in joint publications. An explicitly recognised Special Interest Group (SIG) within iEMSs will bring together interested iEMSs members and facilitate interaction with related organisations. This would support our existing activities, and promotion in other forums of environmental modelling and software interests.

This is the first workshop of the SIG, open to all, without ongoing obligation. The agenda will include:

  • Presentation of proposed SIG: aims and relationship with other uncertainty-related organisations
  • Comments from other organisations, and news of other initiatives
  • Open discussion of the SIG, agreement on next steps; appointment of a chair
  • News on upcoming projects that you would like to promote
  • Discussion of possible SIG initiatives


F101: Building a Model Summary Template

Organizers: Mary Hill,  Lieke Melsen, Tony Jakeman , Holger Maier, Saman Razavi, Jiri Nossent

In 2006, Jakeman et al. presented their EMS positioning paper “Ten iterative steps in development and evaluation of environmental models” that provides guidelines for good, disciplined modelling practice. Adding a model summary as a requirement to the publication of a paper that involves model development or application could complement these guidelines and improve model practices and communication of advances and caveats that a paper makes. Moreover, the information in such a summary could give more insights in hot topics like model selection, model structure uncertainty and the role of the modeler, and interest groups in the modelling process.

This workshop aims at building a possible template for such model summary based on the experience and examples of participants. We ask participants to think about suggestions beforehand, preferably based on their own (recent) modelling papers. Examples could be: statement of objectives, rationale for the model choice, methods and criteria employed, performance evaluation, steps taken to cope with uncertainty.

EMS Special Workshop

Z100: Getting Your Work Published in Environmental Modelling & Software – Meet the Editors

Organizers: Dan Ames, Tony Jakeman

Environmental Modelling & Software (EMS) is a highly ranked Elsevier publication that is sponsored by iEMSs. While the aims and scope of EMS and the society are closely aligned, they are not the same. Hence getting your paper accepted for the iEMSs conference does not guarantee publication in EMS. In this workshop, you will have a chance to meet with the Editors of EMS to learn more about what it takes to get your paper published in the journal. We will discuss scope, submission guidelines, what to expect, and tips and tricks to improve your odds. We will have a representative from Elsevier on hand to answer technical questions about the publishing process and you will learn more about the new PlumX metrics for gauging social impact of your paper. Finally we will discuss ideas for building visibility for your work once your manuscript is published. Join iEMSs President and EMS Editor-in-Chief, Dan Ames, as well as other editors and Elsevier staff for this engaging, informational workshop.