Friday, October 3, 2014

Naming things in hydrological models

Yesterday I could meet with Olaf David, Scott Peckham (update: Scott did a presentation on MBI at the OMS3 summer school in 2016). Scott is a well known scientists either among hydrological modellers than geomorphologists. In the first field because of his recent work on CSDMS project (and his own model Topoflow), in which he was one of the leader scientists, in the latter thanks to his work on river network topology and the construction of Rivertools, one of the best suite of tools for watershed delineation and analysis.

The reason to meet was friendship and just talking and exchanging  what we are doing, and the meeting, closed in one (actually two) of the small breweries of Fort Collins, was really successful. 

One of the recent things Scott is pursuing is to understand what models have inside, and the approach he took, was to categorise all the variables they contain, and define in a manner as clear as possible.  His efforts can be found and well described in here.

“CSDMS asks that contributed models should be provided with a Basic Model Interface (BMI) which includes mapping input and output variable names to CSDMS Standard Names and providing model metadata. …  A good introduction to the CSDMS Standard Names is provided by Peckham (2014). A somewhat outdated, high-level overview of the CSDMS Standard Names is also available as aPowerpoint presentation.”

Scott and coworkers did not forgot netCDF parallel effort with its CF convention, but he realised that the coverage of hydrology was poor, and he want to built the vocabulary from scratch. The effort, is by far not useful to his project, but also for other models and infrastructures. With our model GEOtop we started a parallel, and much more limited work, in identifying keywords related to hydrological quantities and to control the model’s workflow (see GEOtop’s manual), and I plan to provide soon a matching between CSDMS names and GEOtop names (and, I will repeat the operation inside my lectures, modifying my slides).

Having a common vocabulary for identify things in models would certainly make easier to choose names for quantities, even if, clearly the internal variable names should be shorter for practical purposes,   identify code chunks that treat the same phenomena. Also search model through the web would facilitate with standard names for search.

Here below a brief description of the whole Scott’s effort.
While it is always a good idea to use existing standards whenever possible, CSDMS discovered that other naming conventions, such as the CF Convention Standard Names were not well-suited to the needs of component-based modeling. This section explains our motivation for developing a new standard.
This section provides some background and basic information about the CSDMS Standard Names.
This section provides numerous examples of CSDMS Standard Names, organized by the main object under consideration and its parts or "subobjects".
The CSDMS Standard Names follow an object + quantity pattern with an optional operation prefix applied to the quantity part. This section provides the basic rules for constructing CSDMS Standard Names.
This section provides a set of templates and rules for constructing the object name part of a CSDMS Standard Name.
This section provides a set of templates and rules for constructing the quantity name part of a CSDMS Standard Name. Many quantity names include the name of aphysical process and information about constructing process names along with numerous examples are given on the CSDMS Process Names page.
This section provides a set of templates and rules for constructing the optional operation part of a CSDMS Standard Name.
This section provides information on CSDMS Model Coupling Metadata (MCM) files and provides standardized model/variable metadata names for units, ellipsoids, datums, projections, "how modeled" and assumptions. It links to an extensive set of CSDMS Assumption Names and includes An Example Model Coupling Metadata file.

1 comment:

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