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Geo.X Hackathon:

The challenge of +4 data – Visualizing and comparing outputs from landscape evolution models

Landscape evolution models (LEM) are numerical simulation tools that allow studying how external forcing such as tectonics and climate act together to form the landscape we are living in. LEMs simulate the geomorphological repercussions of global warming, land use and land cover change at the regional and local scale, and thus they increasingly support planning and decision making. However, understanding and comparing LEM simulations is hampered by difficulties visualizing and documenting the multidimensional output that varies in 3D as well as time and covers different variables (erosion, sedimentation, feedbacks with vegetation, etc.).

15 scientists took part in the Geo.X Hackathon from 12-14th March 2018 at TU Berlin. 

What can you accomplish in one and half day of work? Quite a lot! This has been demonstrated by 15 participants of the Geo.X-Hackathon from March 12-14, 2018. The hackathon aimed at finding solutions to a challenge in landscape evolution modelling: How can we visualize and compare the high-dimensional output from simulations that show how landscapes and their sedimentary architecture change over time? The problem was broadly stated and encouraged a lively ideation process on the aims and scopes of landscape evolution models and science communication.

What did the participants build?  The participants teamed up in four groups that all had quite different problems defined. While one group tested and evaluated different open-source frameworks for displaying and animating point clouds and surface models, another used webmapping tools to visualize water and sediment movement in an estuarine system. The third group developed and tested a dimension-reduction approach commonly used for evaluating climate models, while the fourth group employed network analysis to reduce a dynamic landscape to a set of geomorphological units connected by links.

And the winner is…? The hackathon concluded with group presentations that were judged by a jury of three senior researchers of the Geo.X network: Dirk Scherler (GFZ), Ronny Hänsch (TU) and Harald Schernthanner (UP). While the judges emphasized the innovative and technical scope of each group, they highlighted the dimension-reduction approach using Taylor diagrams developed by Marco van de Wiel, Fiona Clubb, and John Armitage.  The group is the lucky winner of a Geo.X funded award: a sponsored open-access publication! This is clearly an incentive to develop and deploy the tool further.

Dr. Wolfgang Schwanghart
Universität Potsdam,
Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Haus 1, Raum 1.20
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
14476 Potsdam-Golm
Telefon: +49 331 977 5875
Fax: +49 331 977 5700