Attila Lazar, Frances Dunn, Robert Nicholls

The Dynamic Duo - Modeling Coupled Earth and Human Systems: CSDMS 2017 Annual Meeting

Robert Nicholls, Attila Lazar, and Frances Dunn attended the annual meeting of CSDMS (Community Surface Dynamics Modeling Systems) in Boulder, Colorado, USA, at foot of the Rocky Mountains, 25-27 May 2017. This is a model-based community of scientists that have met annually since 2002 with the goal of advancing modelling by sharing, standardising, and coupling (see CDSMS website where a large number of open source models are available for download). The three day conference comprised presentations, poster sessions, workshops, and participatory sessions, which cover the range of subjects relevant to surface dynamics modeling. This year's theme was particularly relevant to the DECCMA project as the conference focused on coupling physical environment and human systems within models. Establishing the link between human and physical modellers has been an ongoing effort of CSDMS. The ‘Human dimension’ (formally known as the ‘Anthropocene’) research focus group was established a few years ago, but this conference brought social scientists and human system modellers together in large numbers.

The presentations, including keynote speeches by invited academics and important student contributions, had broad appeal and all represented engaging aspects of the community's activities including comments on the theory and practicality of coupling human and physical environment models, aspects of hydrological modeling, and coastal transdisciplinary modeling, among other subjects. An inspiring talk by a World Bank representative argued for an integrated, multi-objective assessment-based decision making in investment decisions. Robert Nicholls presented a keynote speech on “Deltas as Coupled Socio-Ecological Systems” drawing on the ESPA Deltas project, a predecessor of DECCMA, highlighting the importance of integration, exchanging ideas, and cooperation for a sustainable delta development.

There were two poster sessions covering the range of research done by the members of CSDMS. Attila Lazar presented a poster on his work within DECCMA on the integrated assessment model, "Modelling Household Adaptation Choices Using a Dynamic Bayesian Network Model", showcasing the philosophy, method, and early results, which was very relevant for the theme of the conference. Frances Dunn presented a poster, "(Un)sustainability of Deltas Under Potential Future Changes in Sediment Delivery," covering her PhD research on modeling fluvial sediment flux to deltas under environmental change scenarios, incorporating human and physical environmental influences. These poster sessions were active and dynamic, prompting lots of useful discussions and facilitating researcher interaction.

The workshops included useful clinics on aspects of modeling and modeling tools aiming to help researchers use new methods in their work. The clinics were on subjects such as agent-based modelling, hydrological modelling, uncertainty analysis, good modelling practices, the use of parallel computing facilities of CSDMS, how to run and couple models on the CSDMS website, and how to use CSDMS models in the classroom. The participatory sessions included both breakout session focused on discussing the future of CSDMS and discussion within working and research focus groups in CSDMS to allow the community input and ownership of the future direction of CSDMS groups and CSDMS as a whole.

The conference was an excellent opportunity to publicise DECCMA research and acquaint ourselves with new and existing contacts, as well as an intensive educational opportunity for developing skills and discovering new research projects and methods. The theme and activities showed that the methods employed by DECCMA (and ESPA Deltas) are the state-of-the-art for coupled natural-human modelling and our work was an important contribution to the meeting. At the same time, we learned that it is important and valuable to share our work with CSDMS colleagues and it will benefit us all if we share experiences, techniques, and methods more widely.

Posted 13/06/2017 12:02 by Attila Lazar, Frances Dunn, Robert Nicholls

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