Class on December 6, 2018

Brian started class with an overview of why scientists create models and who the various audiences are that are interested in the models.

He asked the students to think about the models they had created and where they thought they were at in terms of potential audiences that might benefit from them:

  • 1. Models are created to investigate phenomena and get a deeper understanding of their state over time.
  • 2. Models are created to generate an awareness of an issue associated with a modeled domain.
  • 3. Models are created to suggest the ramifications of potential changes to a modeled domain.
  • 4. Models are created to influence policy and management of a modeled domain.
Many of the students suggested the models they had created were appropriate for all four audiences whereas all the faculty suggested the models were appropriate for only the audience in 1 (the first).

Brian then asked students to contemplate what they would do next to improve upon the models and their impact. He provided some typical scripts for students to choose among.

Brian then presented and discussed various modeling environments being used for NPZD modeling internationally. He thought the inclusion of oxygen as a separate 'box' in models seemed useful and compared and contrasted the modeling environments that made oxygen explicit:

Although the modeling environments provided a modular approach for considering the components as variables in a box diagram, some environments had many more boxes available for use than others. The number of parameters involved to model the state of each variable varied. Some modeling environments model the pelagic, some the benthic, and some intertwine the two as one body of water.

The ERSEM modeling environment, used heavily first in European waters and then around the world, was the most complicated of all the modeling approaches presented. ERSEM affords a configuration of modules to support an analysis like:

Brian was clear in pointing out that a complex model is not necessarily 'better' or more 'useful' than less complex models. Quality and usefulness depend heavily on resources, timeliness, and the nature of the audience and what needs to be communicated — bringing the class full circle to the initial contemplation exercises.

Students were then reminded that their final presentations would take place in a week. Students were encouraged to attend the next class period as an open workshop with the faculty, and to be ready to ask any last questions regarding the class overall.