The Chesapeake Community Modeling Project (CCMP) is a formal partnership of numerous institutional representatives across the Chesapeake Bay watershed who have come together to develop a community modeling system of model code, databases, and documentation for a series of formulations covering all aspects of basin processes. The CCMP works to provide managers and policy makers with the scientific data and products that are necessary for proper decision-making as well as serving the regional research community with innovative models applicable to lands, waters, and the coastal ocean.
The CCMP was implemented through the decisions of the June, 2002 meeting of the CRC member institution modeling community and the subsequent Board approval in July, 2003. As of September 2005, there are ten members of a CCMP Steering Committee and approximately fifteen institutions involved in on-going activities related to the CCMP. The steering committee meets quarterly to discuss current and potential funding opportunities and overall strategies. In addition, they analyze the potential funding opportunities and explore the network of investigators to determine the individual researchers who could best collaborate to effectively compete for specific funding opportunities.
The goal of the CCMP is to develop a community modeling system of model code, databases, and documentation for a series of formulations covering all aspects of basin processes. Model code will be distributed over the world-wide-web for use and revision. Materials will include models of the airshed, watershed, and estuarine and coastal ocean processes that would permit coupling of these unique modules to form a number of possibilities for modeling the basin. ‘Mix and match’ or ‘plug and play’ are often descriptors of such an approach. Through this module substitution approach, multiple estimates of the impacts of basin alterations can be obtained, thereby providing some degree of confidence in predictions of future conditions.
As previously stated, the market for the CCMP’s work consists of the managers and policy makers in the Chesapeake Bay basin. Three classes of users define three scales of applications. First are the full basin-scale users representing agencies concerned with broad management issues. At the scale of tributary strategy management, the modeling system must apply at single watershed or county levels. Finally, at the smallest scale are users concerned with local water quality, effects of neighborhood septic tanks, etc. who must be given an opportunity to explore and understand local processes and impacts. There are numerous (upwards of thirty) models already distributed through various websites addressing issues in the Chesapeake Bay. The CCMP will bring these diverse sources together and provide the users with a central repository where they can access all the available information and approaches at one time. All users will choose the modeling system because it is of a transparent nature (any algorithm can be modified), providing confidence in its ability to make accurate predictions.
Our main strategy is product development. To this end, financing is necessary for hardware and software that is necessary to run the models as well as for the time spent to research and develop these systems. The first step in developing the modeling system was model collection. This effort has been completed to a point where the next step can be addressed: construction of middleware to link the individual models together into a comprehensive modeling system. To achieve this next objective, additional resources are needed. Chesapeake Research Consortium expenses related to the CCMP have been minimal since the Project’s inception, under $10,000 per year. This number has largely been offset by income earned from multiple agency-funded projects. In order to develop the desired modeling system in a desirable time period, more investment may be necessary.
1. Community-wide workshops and meetings:
Project workshops will provide an important service to the CRC-member institutions and the Chesapeake Bay research community in general by increasing communication and interaction. These workshops will also facilitate interaction between observers and modelers, and promote interdisciplinary research in general, that is essential for modeling the estuary and the watershed.
2. Facilitation of collaborative efforts among CRC-member faculty:
An important goal of the CRC CCMP is to generally enhance and facilitate collaborative research efforts among the CRC institutions and also between academic scientists and more management-oriented researchers within or supported by agencies active in the Bay, e.g., the Chesapeake Bay Program(CBP) , MD Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. It is anticipated that this project will lead to significant enhancement of all of these interactions and will therefore strengthen what are now relative weak and sporadic connections between the research and management communities.
3. Database development and standardization:
An important product that will be generated by this project will be a set of standardized data base products that can be used for model development, forcing, validation, and general research. These data sets will be made freely available to anyone who wishes to download and use them. Obtaining these kinds of data is often a major impediment to new model development and application efforts. A major focus of this effort will be on obtaining and serving Chesapeake Bay data sets that are not already available as part of the CBP monitoring program efforts.
4. Source code consolidation and documentation:
In addition to providing data base products, this project will act as a clearinghouse for consolidation, standardization, and dissemination of model source code and documentation. This service will enhance modeling-oriented research and management efforts throughout Chesapeake Bay because it will provide access to models and tools that are not currently available.
5. Model development:
The CCMP will support a variety of model-oriented research efforts that will enhance existing models and create new models intended for a variety of applications. This project will be centered on efforts to develop a new, state-of-the-art software system which will facilitate model connectivity. The resultant research model system for Chesapeake Bay and its watershed will be used for a variety of research applications, ultimately paving the way for the development of a new generation of management-oriented models.
6. Model applications:
In addition to research and development, many opportunities exist for model applications, i.e., using a model to assist management decisions and environmental impact assessments. Models that are developed, consolidated, and documented as part of this effort will, at some level, be used for more applied applications (see 2009 below).
As mentioned above, the individual models that are used by the CCMP are available from the individual developers. By collecting these individual models and creating middleware that will allow them to interact seamlessly, the CCMP will in fact create a unique product. The closest alternatives to this modeling system are the HSPF Watershed Model and the Estuary Model that have been developed by the CBP. These models have been developed over a long period of time and were closed-source for the great majority of that development. They have been proven to be inadequate in forecasting ability and there is great demand for an alternative.
There is an enormous market for the products of the CCMP. This is evidenced by the huge amounts of funding that are made available for these activities every year through both federal and state funding sources. Every policy-making body in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed would benefit from our products and would use them. In addition, the modeling system would be extremely useful in the education arena by providing schools with a tool that will allow students to see how decisions that we impact the environment.
As evidenced by the public outcry over the failure of the CBP model to predict observed results, interest in modeling for management use is increasing. As more tools are made available to the policy-making community, greater accuracy and efficiency in policy decisions can be envisioned, rallying continued public commitment to the Bay’s restoration. This will in turn create even more demand for the CCMP modeling system.
Strategy and Implementation
The CCMP has completed the first part of the plan, collecting models to use in the modeling system. Now, the middleware that will allow the individual models to be used together must be created. This will be completed by continued efforts of the CCMP Project Manager to recruit time from individual researchers to provide their expertise. This will be enhanced by involving these researchers in funding proposals that will provide the fiscal resources to complete the work. As the middleware is developed, it will be accessible through the CCMP website in a format that will allow registered users to constantly update and amend the system. This provides the capability for all contributors to actively and continually be involved in the development of the system in an open-source environment.
The CCMP has an edge over other modeling options in the region, e.g., the CBP, in that it is an open-source modeling system. While the CBP model was closed, it developed without peer review. Any errors that were developed over those many years are still part of the system and cannot be removed. Since the CCMP is starting with a new system in an open-source environment, the likelihood that errors are not discovered is quite slim, giving in the future policy-maker users greater confidence in using our models. The multi-institution nature of the CCMP also provides policy-makers with an extra degree of confidence in our model system as the participating institutions are looking for the best science rather than pursuing an agenda to solidify their individual positions in the scientific arena. Finally, the highly publicized failures of the CBP models over the last year provide an excellent opportunity for the CCMP to gain a foothold in the policy community. Without an alternative, the managers will have no choice but to turn back to the Chesapeake Bay Program, but when the CCMP modeling system is available, it will certainly provide an appropriate alternative for assessing management impacts on downstream loads and accompanying impacts.
Once the modeling system is developed and tested, a series of workshops will introduce it to the management community that may not already be aware of its existence. A CCMP applications researcher will oversee the transfer and implementation of appropriate modules from the modeling system to specific geographic areas or public bodies (counties). This will provide the CCMP with an opportunity to gain users and to give those users some remedial training in using the system. As part of this introduction, it is expected that comparison of outputs between the CCMP modeling system and the CBP models will be performed. This will lead to a great deal of attention by the science and environmental media and quite possibly the mass media.
By providing free and early access to the open system now, the CCMP will become indispensable in the future.
The CCMP funding strategy will directly support administrative oversight and software development, while leveraging CRC member institution research. The $1.5 million, five year MERHAB project is a first example. It will support an assistant for the CCMP office, as well as a CCMP research post-doc who will work with the CRC member institution PI’s to develop the CCMP integrated modeling system. In out years, CCMP involvement in future proposals will be to provide services which aid the community modeling and software development as well as to provide support for transition of research products to applied management usage.
2005 – Funding for an assistant to the Program Manager is available through a combination of funding mechanisms, including three NOAA awards and an NSF award. The NOAA MERHAB award provides one year’s salary for a post-doctoral researcher as well as four months salary for a programmer. No additional funding is necessary.
2006 – The salaries for the post-doctoral researcher and programmer continue into 2006. The assistant salary is once again funded through a variety of sources. In addition, the CRC will provide $50,000 for an additional researcher to aid in development of the middleware application that is central to the CCMP effort.
2007 - The MERHAB salaries for the post-doctoral researcher and programmer continue. The assistant salary is once again funded through a variety of sources. A working software system should now be available to form the nucleus of additional competitive proposals from CRC institutions, which can be expected to support core CCMP activities.
2008 - The MERHAB salaries for the post-doctoral researcher and programmer continue. The assistant salary is once again funded through a variety of sources. Further refinement and consolidation of the modeling systems continues. Support for direct management applications will be sought, as well as for continuing research-oriented approaches.
2009 - The CCMP office salary needs will be funded through a variety of on-going research proposals. A fully developed modeling system will begin to provide direct funding opportunities through CCMP provided training and application services. The CCMP will also employ a post-doctoral researcher/staff member to complete comparative analyses between the CCMP modeling system and the CBP modeling system, with funding derived from the CBP, NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, the Campbell Foundation as well as the CRC. Once these analyses are completed, the post-doctoral researcher/staff member will engage in full-time efforts to actively market the system to the managers and policy-makers in the community and to provide a first line of support for those entities.
The CCMP as a community resource and future management resource is deriving its base funding (~$125,000 annually) from on-going NOAA support for the project manager and EPA and NOAA supported file servers and server maintenance. This funding is likely to continue well into the future. Model compilation at the CCMP has been accomplished through researcher goodwill, yielding a suite of watershed, biogeochemical, and hydrodynamic models. Expanded software development linking the diverse models in the CCMP has been insured for the coming 5 years with CCMP-member institution awards (MERHAB, CLEANER) and additional software development continues to be sought through on-going proposal activities. Model system testing and comparisons with CBP output is currently planned through extramural funding sources (e.g., the soon to be submitted Ecological Forecasting proposal) but should this and other submissions fail in the next 3 years, CRC resources will be used for hiring a staff member to conduct the comparisons. Finally, transfer of models for specific management use across the basin is planned as a post-model comparison activity, funded initially through multi-agency and NGO support (CBP, NCBO, Campbell Foundation), and as confidence grows, individual management agencies at state and county levels.