From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published July 9, 2010 02:17 PM

Integrated Modeling

Integrated environmental modeling is a discipline of developing a system of models where models from two or more academic disciplines are integrated such that they behave like a unit to external stimuli. At least one of the models in the system is from environmental domain while others may come from other academic disciplines such as the socio-economic domain. The models integrated into the system are usually developed in complete isolation from each other. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching a new on line tool for scientific collaboration and knowledge sharing that was built by Purdue University with support from the agency. The Integrated Environmental Modeling Hub (iemHUB) allows environmental researchers to analyze environmental problems and combine environmental models so that a better understanding of the environment can be developed – everything from keeping beaches clean to predicting climate effects.

"This new on-line collaborative tool will help us increase our understanding of the complex nature of environmental problems. It will advance our ability to predict the impacts of our actions on the environment," said Paul T. Anastas, Ph.D., EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development.

EPA uses integrated modeling assessments to inform decision making in support of its mission of protecting human health and safeguarding the environment. With the website, the agency is providing a state-of-the-art resource to the environmental modeling community. The iemHUB supports the development of integrated models and their use in conducting research and informing the decision making process.

The use of computer modeling to simulate environmental processes and the interactions between ecological and anthropogenic systems goes back several decades. Environmental models are now routinely used to evaluate, understand and predict the environmental fate of pollutants, their impacts on human health and the environment, and the costs and benefits of alternative policies.

Integrated modeling encompasses a broad range of approaches and configurations of models, tools and assessment methods to describe and analyze complex environmental problems, often in a multi-media and multi-disciplinary manner. Adopting this approach brings with it a number of science and information technology challenges.

Some of the system features include:

Interactive Tool Repository: Users of the iemHUB have the ability to upload, share and access their models and modeling tools. The iemHUB also allows users to run interactive, graphical simulation tools through an ordinary web browser. Any tool with a graphical user interface can be installed on the hub and deployed within a few hours.

Manuals, Tutorials and Online Presentations: In order for users to make the most of the tools on the iemHUB, they need to understand the limitations of each tool and its underlying science. Along with the tools, each hub features a series of online presentations, which are PowerPoint® slides combined with voice and animation.

Ratings and Citations: The hub philosophy is not to judge the quality of each resource before deciding to post, but rather, to post resources and let the community judge the quality. Registered users are allowed to post 5-star ratings and comments for each resource.

Content Tagging: Each of the resources on a hub is categorized by a series of tags, which are arbitrary strings defined by the user when uploading content. Each tag has an associated page on the hub where its meaning is defined and its resources are listed.

User Groups for Private Collaboration
: The iemHUB offers the ability for users to limit their collaborations to a smaller audience. Any registered user can create a group and invite others to join it. The creator can accept or reject group members, and can promote various members to help manage the group.

Wikis and Blogs: The iemHUB supports the creation of "topic" pages, which are similar to the Google "knol" model for knowledge articles. Each topic page is created with a standard wiki syntax by a specified list of authors. Other users can be allowed to add comments to the page or even suggest changes.

News and Events (Linked to calendar): The iemHUB includes a calendar and a mechanism for any registered user to post events. This iemHUB calendar is the focal point of the integrated environmental modeling community.

The Integrated Modeling Hub is similar to a Wikipedia or even a social network where users can chat and receive informal comments on new models as well as a source of modeling information.

For further information:


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