Earlier this month, Naomi Tague presented “Animating green stuff in Hydrologic models: Where we are and what is next” as part of the University of Virginia’s Environmental Sciences Department Moore lecture series hosted by Larry Band.
Abstract: Early hydrologic models represented vegetation as a simple parameter that influenced interception and the transpiration of soil water – the green slime approach. The next generation of eco-hydrology models, termed flow and grow models, included vegetation growth in response to water availability, nutrients and climate. The ‘grow’ component of today’s eco-hydrology models ranging from simple empirical relationships to sophisticated physiological approaches that can explore adaptation and disturbance. Added complexity adds realism and allows models to integrate new theory and data – to become ‘virtual laboratories’. Complexity however is also challenge – What ecohydrology models actually do is rarely clear – they are often ‘black boxes’ even to those who design and use them and this opacity reduces credibility and complicates the interpretation of model results For models to be more effective at advancing understanding how how plants, soil, climate and water interact we must improve how we visualize and communicate not only model output but also the underlying theories that are encoded This is a science-communication challenge that can be tackled with new innovations from computer science and statistics, especially in visualization, informatics and human-computer interface design. In this talk I argue that these innovations are essential if we are to realize the potential of ecohydologic models – and more generally provide ways to use evolving knowledge and data. I present a framework to move us toward this goal and several recent examples.