Community Modeling

The modular approach is usually a result of collaboration between different groups of modelers as long as they can agree to subscribe to the same set of rules or specifications. At the same time, the modular architecture can significantly empower this kind of community modeling, calling for new members joining the group and contributing their resources in mutually acceptable formats.

MMS, for example, began as a cooperative research effort between the USGS and the University of Colorado's Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES). Later on interest in the MMS concepts was expressed by many other national and international agencies and organizations. Agreements established with several of these groups have provided new ideas for system enhancement and the contribution of resources, in terms of money and/or people, to add these enhancements to the system. In addition, these groups continue to contribute their modeling expertise to the system by converting their models to MMS modules and by providing test sites for system evaluation and development. Other partners contributing to the MMS development include the US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), the TERRA Laboratory, which is a joint Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-Forest Service (FS)-USGS consortium that was formed to facilitate the development of decision support systems for terrestrial ecosystem problems, and others.

The FMS is mostly developed under the auspice of GFDL at NOAA; however, its code is provided at GForge (after 2002, before that it was developed as a SourceForge project), which means that it is open for a broad community of programmers and modelers to contribute modules and interfaces.

The LHEM/SME package is also available on SourceForge and it has attracted some collaboration between UVM and UFZ in Leipzig, Germany. Both groups have been working on different modules, both as STELLA models and C++ software.

However in most cases we are still talking about fairly closed communities built around a set ofrules and ideas that define the system architecture. The modular systems remain mostly a product of the core group of developers who subscribe to the same more or less limited set of standards and specifications. Apparently, a truly flexible and modular system, widely accepted by a range of model development and application organizations, is yet to be developed.

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