Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Evaluation of Dr. *** work and research. For getting tenure

It often happens that an Academic is asked to assess his/her peer work. This below is an example of one letter that I made recently. However, in boldface I put comments in a less traditional language that I think would give more insight with respect to the letter I actually wrote both to people who judge the researcher. Here you find it below:

The short answer to your Institution request is: there is no doubt that Dr. *** deserves to get his/her tenured position, s/he is one of the best in the world in what s/he does.

C: The short answer is: this man/woman is damned good. S/he is far above the average and you would be stupid not to keep him/her.

The long assessment is easy too. My own research work intersects very much with Dr. ***'s one. So I came to know and follow her/his production since ten years ago. Her/His paper are among those I cited more frequently in my recent research and s/he is one of the two or three researchers younger than me that I believe it is necessary to follow when working on hydrological modelling.

C: I do not need to read her/his papers. I already read and frequently cited her/him. So: s/he is good. S/he regularly publish just on the best journals. S/he has a rate of citation slightly than mine. So, maybe s/he is better than me. Stop. 

S/he also publish regularly with some of the best researchers in the field and this does not usually happen to everyone.

C: S/he is well connected. The group s/he frequents is extremely good but tends to be self-referential. This exposes her/him to the threat to follow the main stream (which helps in publishing) and not be a paradigms breaker (which could be hard to sustain). However, if s/he is smart, as I believe, s/he will avoid the pitfalls of situation.

Finally her/his DUPER environment is a milestone in recent literature.

C: Her/his framework is damned good. It is one of the main contenders of mine. If I would be a super rampant guy, I would try to obstacle it. But I am a professor (sigh).

It happens, obviously, that I disagree on some details of her/his research, but this is matter of normal dialectics between peers.

C: S/he made some choices different from mine and sustains them with some statements that I judge debatable. But respect to the shit I see around there is by far no competition. 

From the recent papers s/he chose for evaluation, I could see that s/he also enlarged her/his view on using Bayesian techniques for estimating model’s parameters.

C: S/he is able to understand where the fashionable stuff is. This attitude does not produce science by itself but for sure is one of the characteristics that good Academics must have at least a bit (sometimes to avoid to follow fashionable stuff).

His/Her approach is sophisticate and requires certainly some deepening from myself, but I could appreciate its novelty.

C: The last paper is really technical and if s/he insists too much in this direction s/he can fall into hydrological matematistry

Whilst her/his initial production reflects also %%%% view of the matter, it is quite clear now what is Dr. *** own contribution and evolution.

C: Her/his former and influential boss quite determined her/his initial research, but s/he seems having coming out from her/his boss old fashionable approach, which was not up-to-date and could have brought her/him to produce crappy stuff. Which was not. 

To summarise, when s/he writes: "My research areas in catchment modelling can be broadly classified as: (1) the development of flexible models,which provide the building blocks for the construction of models, (2) the formulation of guidelines for model development, and (3) the use of models to interpret catchment behaviour and to produce reliable predictions. Through these research areas I have contributed to important developments in hydrological sciences in the past years, such as the use of models for hypothesis testing, the incorporation of experimental knowledge inthe modelling process, and the understanding of large scale hydrological processes and their controls.”, s/he give an image of her/himself that I fully share and think is appropriate.

C: S/he knows what s/he is and does. S/he is ready for his role. 

S/he individuates three areas of progress for his research: a) Flexible models development; b) Theory of (hydrological) models developments; c) Understanding and prediction of catchment behavior.

C: This intersects with my activities, that’s why I reformulated the name of her/his second area of interest. My, I think, is more appropriate. 

Recently there was, among many colleagues, the idea that the topics of surface hydrology were mature and that research has to move to hybrid fields like socio-hydrology, eco-hydrology (with an accent to ecology more than hydrology), ecosystem services and so on.

C: Most of colleagues, even gifted ones, tends to give for granted was is actually not (at all).

With respect to these new, certainly exciting directions, the focus of Dr. *** seems quite traditional. However, I fully approve it. The kind of research s/he is pursuing is fundamental and necessary after years of blown dilettantism that has relevant consequences in research and practice.

C: With respect to these topics most colleagues are either wrong or superficial. (Someone has to use these occasion to push out his frustration). 

Conclusions and extension obtained from ill-conceived concepts, improperly used models, and lack of hypothesis testing brings to wrong interpretations of hydrological facts and can have negative consequences on engineering applications and cause the choice of wrong policies.

C: They use wrong findings based on misconceptions and move to new subfields with wrong information. GIGO

Dr. *** work is important and its importance is going to become more and more clear in the next years. Hopefully just a few model infrastructures will emerge from the present fragmentation, and I believe the one from the evolving work of Dr. *** will be in the group.

C: Just a few framework will survive when people finally will understand the limits of hydrological dilettantism. Possibly the work of this researcher will survive and for sure, it will do for the next decade.

Probably, If I would be her/him, I would try to broaden a little the perspective including, besides the hydrologic response, the whole set of hydrological processes that concern catchments’ budget more seriously, and, in particular, evapotranspiration that, in some environments covers even sixty per cent of the water budget.

C: Engineers, even some ecohydrologists, are obsessed with discharges. These are just a part of the game. Future frameworks have to play the full game.

I would also devote some attention to the approach with travel time distributions which could open new perspectives in modeling of nutrients and pollutants, a field which Dr. *** already came across.

C: S/he forget some fundamental aspects concerning her/his own area of interest. S/he should not.

Finally, I have no doubt that Dr. *** will continue to improve and bring great contributions to your Institution.

C: I criticize her/him as I do with those I really like. S/he is a good person. Everybody can work with her/him and have benefits. They know that they want to keep her/him and I appreciate it. This will made her/him more free and more brave.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A smooth introduction to some Algebraic Topology topics

Since the previous post on Grids touched some topics on algebraic topology, I  selected a few sites where I found some interesting information from our point of view that can help the reading of the previous slides and, in general, of the references already presented.

I do not share many of Tonti's opinions, but some of his talks and books are, indeed, enlightening.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Meshes, Grids, CW-Complexes

Representation of space (and time) is a necessary step to implement any Physics. However, the topic is seldom faced with the appropriate generality, and this reflects into implementations in softwares that do not have a general structure. This is the rational for talking here about meshes or grids.
From a quick view of the material found in literature, it appears that a lot of work has been done, by few people (group). There are at least two pathways to follow. The first is the Ugrid mesh specification. We can describe it as the classification work of mesh by power users, i.e. people who use meshes for describing (especially environmental) numerical problems. Their work is concentrated on semantics and explaining what the mesh are,  with the scope to insert them in NetCDF, a self explaining file format conceived to contain environmental data.
The second approach, in Berti (2000) starts from more fundamental mathematical work which is also used in Heinzl (2007, but referring to the paper Heinzl, 2011, could be convenient).
In general, the first two chapters of Berti’s dissertation are a must-to-read for those who deals with scientific computing.
A subsequent number of papers cover two topics: how to store mesh in databases and how to give to these structures the right flexibility to be parallelized. Interestingly some of the mathematical work actually flowed into the creation of C++ libraries, in particular the GRAL libraries, developed by Berti himself.


Browsing around, mesh are rigorously defined in Algebraic Topology (e.g. Hatcher, 2001) and this was  recognized in various papers, since the sixties (e.g. Branin, 1966, and references therein). A general discussion, which involve the nature of Physical laws, was produced by Tonti (2013) and somewhat pushed also by Ferretti (2015).  These treatments could bring in the matter some new insight and the general understanding. What we did with the slides was to try to synthetize some of the above work, especially in view of an implementation of some Java libraries. The idea suggested by the readings was to use generic programming, design patters (Gamma et al, 1994, Freeman et al., 2005) and programming to interfaces (which BTW we already have in mund: we found what we were looking for). 
But the detail of the implementation will be the topic of a future post (but you can have a glance to literature browsing the bibliography below). Now get (a little of) theories by clicking on the figure above.


Some of my  students asked for somewhat a milder introduction to algebraic  topology.  I dedicated a new short post to it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Weather Generation (according to Korbinian Breinl)

How one can reasonably cope with simulating future hydrometeorological forcing for hydrological purposes ? Clearly, since meteorology is dominated by unpredictable phenomena (in the sense of chaotic ones) and we cannot pretend to simply use forecasts, when we are looking just a little far away. An option would be to use climatic models and doing dynamic downscaling of their outcomes. The previous lecture given by Jeremy Pal (GS), followed this research path. However, we can produce statistical weather scenarios using stochastic weather generators (SWG) too, once  we have an idea of what will be the mean characteristics of such system.
Literature is full of SWG that covers mainly temperature and rainfall, but it seems there exists systems also that covers other meteorological variables, like wind and radiation.
Today we had a talk on the subject given at our Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering given by Korbinian Breinl. He is at present a post-doc at Uppsala University with Giuliano Di Baldassarre (GS) and we are collaborating in the SteepStreams project.

As usual you can find his presentation by clicking on the figure above.

Besides flooding (and solid flooding) which is one of the scopes of the projects, I hope we succeed in modeling all the main components of the hydrological cycle by a combine use of Korbinian’s Generator and JGrass NewAGE. I have also the video record of his presentation, but not yet the approval to share it publicly on YouTube. However you can ask it to me writing to abouthydrology @ gmail.com.

Korbinian's generator is written in Matlab, and it is available through Github.

Please find below a reference list which include, besides Korbinian’s one, some other references that I could gather through time.


Other available codes

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A flexible approach to the estimation of water budgets and its connection to the travel time theory

This blogpost contains the Marialaura Bancheri (in this blog) dissertation for ending her doctoral studies. There is a lot of material inside that goes from how to do better hydrological models,  to doing it, to implement and deploys some OMS3 components.  Really a lot of material.

Clicking on the figure above, you can access the draft of the manuscript uploaded on Zenodo.  Here below, please find the Abstract of the manuscript:


The increasing impacts of climate changes on water related sectors are leading the scientists' attentions to the development of comprehensive models, allowing better descriptions of the water and solute transport processes. "Getting the right answers for the right reasons", in terms of hydrological response, is one of the main goals of most of the recent literature. Semi-distributed hydrological models, based on the partition of basins in hydrological response units (HRUs) to be connected, eventually, to describe a whole catchment, proved to be robust in the reproduction of observed catchment dynamics. 'Embedded reservoirs' are often used for each HRU, to allow a consistent representation of the processes. In this work, a new semi-disitrbuted model for runoff and evapotranspiration is presented: five different reservoirs are inter-connected in order to capture the dynamics of snow, canopy, surface flow, root-zone and groundwater compartments.
The knowledge of the mass of water and solute stored and released through different outputs (e.g. discharge, evapotranspiration) allows the analysis of the hydrological travel times and solute transport in catchments. The latter have been studied extensively, with some recent benchmark contributions in the last decade. However, the literature remains obscured by different terminologies and notations, as well as model assumptions are not fully explained. The thesis presents a detailed description of a new theoretical approach that reworks the theory from the point of view of the hydrological storages and fluxes involved. Major aspects of the new theory are the 'age-ranked' definition of the hydrological variables, the explicit treatment of evaporative fluxes and of their influence on the transport, the analysis of the outflows partitioning coefficients and the explicit formulation of the 'age-ranked' equations for solutes. Moreover, the work presents concepts in a new systematic and clarified way, helping the application of the theory.
To give substance to the theory, a small catchment in the prealpine area was chosen as an example and the results illustrated.
The rainfall-runoff model and the travel time theory were implemented and integrated in the semi-distributed hydrological system JGrass-NewAge. Thanks to the environmental modelling framework OMS3, each part of the hydrological cycle is implemented as a component that can be selected, adopted, and connected at run-time to obtain a user-customized hydrological model. The system is flexible, expandable and applicable in a variety of modelling solutions.
In this work, the model code underwent to an extensive revision: new components were added (coupled storages water budget, travel times components); old components were enhanced (Kriging, shortwave, longwave, evapotranspiration, rain-snow separation, SWE and melting components); documentation was standardized and deployed.
Since the Thesis regards in wide sense the building of a collaborative system, a discussion of some general purpose tools that were implemented or improved for supporting the present research is also presented. They include the description and the verification of a software component dealing with the long-wave radiation budget and another component dealing with an implementation of some Kriging procedure.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

OMS 3 essentials

I am collecting here some essential information about the Object Modeling system v3.

The papers to start with:
David, O., Ascough, J. C., II, Lloyd, W., Green, T. R., Rojas, K. W., Leavesley, G. H., & Ahuja, L. R. (2012). A software engineering perspective on environmental modeling framework design: The Object Modeling System. Environmental Modelling and Software, 39, 1–13. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2012.03.006

To have a recent overview of the subject jointly with our GEOframe stuff, one can also give a look to Marialaura Bancheri's dissertation.

OMS general

OMS console installation:

The Hello world example:

The source code can be found at:



Our development regarding the Net3 (Francesco Serafin's work):

Other information in the material of the Summer Schools or (in Italian) among the material of 2017 hydrology class.  I need some time to sort it out. The inpatients can help me.

Hopefully they will merge soon in an official release.  All the repo at present require a password that can be asked to Olaf David (odavid <at> colostate. edu) col.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Some About the World Bank Actions related to Water Resources

One former University of Trento student who eventually moved to Cambridge, Anna Cestari, is since many years working for the World Bank. Having the occasion to have her Trento, I asked her to give a seminar on the activities and the projects of the World Bank. What she said for the general activities is actually what is also summarised in the World Bank Brochure
 However, she gave also talked a little about the Virtual Water problems, how much is water demand of Agricoluture, and some other details about what she finds in developing countries. Water availability has so large implications for any of us and our society. Certainly Global Hydrological Models, or regional ones, can help to sort out the numbers  that are required to build the statistics she presented, and to build infrastructures with informed data.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The four hours rule

I link here an article from the Guardian by Oliver Bukerman, in Italy reproduced by Internazionale dedicated to the quantity of creative work that can be done every day. He, in turn, takes inspiration from the Alex Pang's book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.
The original article can be found here. The Italian version here.

Maybe four hours is too low but, at the same time, pretending to be creative more than four ours a day is not a sin of pride ?
I would be clear, I am not suggesting to my Ph.D.  students to work lazily, but to be conscious that quality counts more than quantity and quality also depends on rational management of our own mental health which is the what we need to preserve. Then it is clear that some (short) periods of life require exceptional efforts. But this works only if these are the exception. Not the rule.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Projecting Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources in Regions of Complex Topography: A Case Study of the Western United States and Southern California

This is the talk given by Jeremy Pal (GS) in Trento on July 26, 2017. He talked about the impact of climate change and  land use on California water resources. Actually the work he presented is part of the awarded Master Thesis of Brianna Pagàn (see last slides).
The talk presents in a plane way the issue related to water resources management of South California, Los Angeles area. It then uses an impressive set of modeling tools to pass from climate and land use changes to water availability. You can enjoy the video and get the slides too.  
Here it is the abstract of the talk:
The Western United States and California have a greater potential vulnerability to climate change impacts on water resources due to a heavy reliance on snowmelt driven streamflow. California, the most agriculturally productive and populous region in the United States, depends on a complex and extensive water storage and conveyance system to supply water primarily for irrigation, municipal and industrial use and hydropower generation. This study provides an integrated approach to assess the impacts of climate change on the hydrologic cycle and extremes for all Southern Californian water supply basins:  Owens Valley, Mono Lake, Colorado River, Sacramento River, San-Joaquin River, and Tulare Lake basins. An 11-member ensemble of coupled atmosphere-ocean global climate models is first dynamically downscaled using a regional climate model and then statistically downscaled to force a hydrological model resulting in 4-km high-resolution output for the Contiguous United States. Greenhouse gas concentrations are prescribed according to historical values for the period 1976-2005 and to the IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 for the near term future period 2021-2050. Precipitation is projected to remain the same or slightly increase by mid-century; however, rising temperatures result in a repartitioning of precipitation type towards more rainfall and therefore a reduced snowpack and earlier snowmelt. In addition to these hydrological changes, daily annual maximum runoff and precipitation events are projected to significantly increase in intensity and frequency such that future return periods change to become substantially more common. More specifically, the current daily annual maximum runoff 10-, 25-, and 50-, and 100-year events are projected to become approximately two to ten times more likely in the future. Furthermore, annual cumulative runoff volumes are projected to increase for high flow years and in contrast decrease for low flow years reducing the reliability of the system. While the escalating likelihood of drought reduces water supply availability, earlier snowmelt and significantly more intense winter precipitation events increases flood risk requiring winter releases from reservoirs for flood control purposes. All of these factors, coupled with projected increases in population, are likely to decrease supply during the higher demand drier months necessitating multiyear storage solutions for urban and agricultural regions as well as improved infrastructure and measures for flood control.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The post-contemporary flood forecasting systems

This is the presentation that has been held at University of Calabria in Cosenza, July 27, 2017. The presentation builds upon several other presentation present in this blog, and discusses the issue of designing a modern flood forecasting system. Actually I distinguish post-modern, contemporary and post-contemporary systems. Of the latter a short manifesto is given.
Clicking on the figure above the reader can access the first (Italian) version of the presentation. The English version can be seen and downloaded at this link. Once downloaded, the pdf contains links to publication and other relevant presentations. With respect to the Italian version, the English version contains a few small variations. One, in particular, was suggested by Daniela Biondi. She suggested that in my Manifesto for the post-contemporary flood forecasting systems, I should add the estimation of errors in forecasting. Suggestion that I fully endorse.

Friday, July 21, 2017


I found this nice paper on Jackknife, worth to read. Easy also to understand the differences between the jackknife technique and the leave-one-out one.
You can click on the knife to download it. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hydrological Extremes and Human Societies

This presentation is part of the summer school “Hydrometeorological extremes: processes, models and human impacts”  just held at Cagliari University this July 12-16. It is a school well organised by Roberto Deidda and became over the year a standard appointment fo my Ph.D. students. This year, among the lecturer there was Giuliano di Baldassarre (GS, RG) who covered the topic on Hydrological Extremes and Human Societies. Unfortunately I could not have been present at his lecture, but I've got his slides (and the permission to publish them).  You can find them below, by clicking on the figure. 
He also suggested some readings related to the talk:

Bianchizza, C., & Frigerio, S. (2013). Domination of or Adaptation to Nature ? A lesson we can still learn from the Vajont. Italian Journal of Engineering Geology and Environment, 6, 523–530. http://doi.org/10.4408/IJEGE.2013-06.B-50

Delle Rose, M. (2012). Decision-making errors and socio-political disputes over the Vajont dam disaster. Disaster Advances, 5(3), 144–152.

Di Baldassarre, G., Martinez, F., Kalantari, Z., & Viglione, A. (2017). Drought and flood in the Anthropocene: feedback mechanisms in reservoir operation. Earth System Dynamics, 8(1), 225–233. http://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-225-2017

Di Baldassarre, G., Viglione, A., Carr, G., Kuil, L., Yan, K., Brandimarte, L., & Blöschl, G. (2015). Debates-Perspectives on socio-hydrology: Capturing feedbacks between physical and social processes. Water Resources Research, 51(6), 4770–4781. http://doi.org/10.1002/2014WR016416

Montanari, A., Young, G., Savenije, H. H. G., Hughes, D., Wagener, T., Ren, L. L., et al. (2013). “Panta Rhei—Everything Flows”: Change in hydrology and society—The IAHS Scientific Decade 2013–2022. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 58(6), 1256–1275. http://doi.org/10.1080/02626667.2013.809088

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Iowa and operational hydrology

Or operational hydrology in Iowa. I do not know if I like the name, because it usually distinguished, since Sacramento model, models that work but kind of far from the edge of research. Obviously this was due to the fact that having a model running every day faces issues that researchers of my type seldom love, like dealing with unreliable data sets, managing, in any case huge amount of data, calibration of parameters, and, more recently, data assimilation. This obviously has to be done routinely, with no loss of forecasting, when it is easy not to have data, and so on. So the focus of these systems was (is) operativity and having reliable results with unreliable tools (an not, like I do, improving the tools).
Among the various experience I saw around the world, The Iowa's one, is remarkable, because never forgot the most recent research, thanks to the effort of Ricardo Gutierrez Mantilla (GS), and Witold Krajesky (GS).
Ricardo, which whom I share a paper, was so kind to show me what he is doing with all the group of people in Iowa in the recent EGU meeting in Wien, and I was surprised by the quality of the results he has, and the quality of the overall system. One remarkable fact is also the this system is, certainly based on the knowledge of current literature but, originally developed and different from any other. He finally sent to me the couple of his presentation that I (under his permission) am sharing with who is interested. 

Click on the figures to access the presentations. 

A recent publication about the systema was published on BAMS: Witold F. Krajewski, Daniel Ceynar, Ibrahim Demir, Radoslaw Goska, Anton Kruger, Carmen Langel, Ricardo Mantilla, James Niemeier, Felipe Quintero, Bong-Chul Seo, Scott J. Small, Larry J. Weber, and Nathan C. Young, Real-Time Flood Forecasting and Information System for the State of Iowa, Real-time flood forecasting and information system for the State of Iowa, Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00243.1, 2017.

Here you can find the  IFC official website.
Here a link to the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) which is the platform they use to disseminate flood related information


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Open call for a master course in High Performance Computing applied to Hydrological Modeling.

Dear all, I would like to advertise an unique opportunity for bright and motivated young people interested in both hydrology and learn on high-performance scientific computing.
The HPC-Tres program (see http://www.ogs.trieste.it/it/content/hpc-training-and-research-earth-sciences-hpc-tres) is just ready to open a call four (4) fellowship to attend the master in HPC (www.mhpc.it) and work on a thesis on earth science computational project.

One of these four project is dedicated to the development of high-performance parallel code for hydrological modelling, thanks to the cooperation among EURAC Bolzano www.eurac.edu , OGS (Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e Geofisica Sperimentale http://www.ogs.trieste.it/) and MHPC Master in High Scientific Computing http://www.mhpc.it/).

This is a great chance for a young graduated student to become an HPC professional and at the same time give an important contribution to advanced scientific packages.
One of the goals of the thesis is to make the hydrological model GEOtop (see also here) run in parallel and increase its speed and overall performance. See “Line C7. Development of a High Performance hydrological model” in the attached document.

To apply for the fellowship is mandatory to apply to the MHPC as well

Deadline has been updated to the 17 of July, see here: http://www.mhpc.it/how-apply

Please do not hesitate to contact Giacomo Bertoldi giacomo.bertoldi@eurac.edu for any further information on this.

Please circulate this opportunity among young and motivated collaborators interested in spending 12 month between Trieste and Bolzano fully paid to attend the master and work on HPC hydrological modelling.

Ing. Giacomo Bertoldi, Ph.D.

EURAC research

Istituto per l'ambiente alpino

Viale Druso 1, I-39100 Bolzano

t +39 0471 055 314
f +39 0471 055 399

Line C7. Development of a High Performance hydrological model

The GEOtop hydrological scientific package is an integrated hydrological model that simulates the heat and water budgets at and below the soil surface. It describes the three-dimensional water flow in the soil and the energy exchange with the atmosphere, considering the radiative and turbulent fluxes. Furthermore, it reproduces the highly non-linear interactions between the water and energy balance during soil freezing and thawing, and simulates the temporal evolution of snow cover, soil temperature and moisture. The core components of the package were presented in the 2.0 version (Endrizzi et al, 2014), which was released as Free Software Open-source project. However, despite the high scientific quality of the project, a modern software engineering approach was still missing. Such weakness hindered its scientific potential and its use both as a standalone package and, more importantly, in an integrate way with other hydrological software tools. In this research line we ail to concentrate software re - engineering efforts to create a robust and stable parallel scientific software package open to the hydrological community, easily usable by researchers and experts, and interoperable with other packages. The overall goal of the activity is to eventually reach a robust and stable software project that manages in a flexible way a complex state-of-the-art hydrological model like GEOtop and integrates it into wider workflows.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A look back to go forward with JGrass-NewAGE

Let's give a look to the last two papers to delineate what is missing. They are all about the use of the JGrass-NewAGE system.

The key aspect of the whole treatment of the water budget is the closure strategy based on the Budyko hypothesis. This has been obtained by a suitable adaptation of the previous Adige-Hymod component that has to be futher cleaned: closing the budget in this way should become more easy and "normal”.  Notably, the method implies that we cannot easily account for cc, unless we let TB increase or decrease with time. However, there is no clear way to obtain this sliding TB from cc simulations.
Another aspect that distinguishes Pp is the use of MODIS for assessing the snow cover. That method would require a better definition, and a standardization of procedures which, again, is missing.
A weak point of this procedure is that ET does not depends on soil cover  characteristics. These characteristics have to be introduced appropriately, for instance giving plants' properties, which include foliage and some plants and roots dimensions which  affect water flows.

Other questions  involve the amount of simplification made when considering an HRU as the basic unit, and how a forcing attributed to a single point (inside a HRU) is representative of the variability of the whole area. Esemplificative is the case of the ET response, obtained by a single point or a small group of points inside the HRU and not by processing all the points. 
With respect to this, the original (version 0) of JGrass-NewAGE was more farsighted by introducing the  energy index calculator components. This OMS component was set to estimate the ratio of radiation received a single pixel inside the basin in a prescribed amount of time (i.e. a month, a year) with respect to a reference pixels. Then, when working in “real time” this factor was used to estimate (approximately) the radiation of the whole HRU on the basis of the single estimate of the reference point and saving, therefore, a lot of computational time. This type of simplifications should/could be reintroduced back again and used when relevant (for instance in Pp this should have been irrelevant for temperature, since its small variation inside each HRU). 

Besides what already said for the Pp that is valid also for BNp, there is to talk, for this paper, about satellite data. All the procedures to obtain those data were performed by using R scripts which are not reproducible and/or not well designed and/or not designed to be available to third parties. To make that research really sparkling, it would be necessary that those scripts and procedures would become real OMS components to be connected with the other ones that constitutesthe core of the paper.

The second point, obviously, is the use of very large HRU that was made: more than 400 square kilometers each on average (not so big, just as large as a square of 20 times 20 km). Therefore the arguments used in Pp, where HRU are of a few kilometers estension, are much more important here: how the sub grid variability of forcings like radiation affects the final results ?
Another aspect not well investigated is how the routing scheme used  affects the results. Clearly in a so large basin, this has to be investigated more thoroughly. Our tools have several routing schemes, including an integrator of a 1d de Saint-Venant equation. Using them could have some importance for the final assessment of our work.

Beyond this, another question arises: can we use those data and those results (in Pp and BNp) as benchmarks for future develpments of our system ? If not, this would be a big wound in our claim to do replicable research.

So, Let's get our sleeves back. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Watsup project

This is the Watsup project. It is an integrate Life project, and, therefore, intended a very applicate ones. However, the technologies and the extent of the project would be exceptionally relevant also for science. In fact, its extent, its detail will bring unprecedented capabilities to the institutions that will adopt it.

Please click on the figure above to access the project proposal.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

CLIMAWARE at the end

This post collects some of the contribution given in our final meetings about the CLIMAWARE project.  For the videoclip introducing the project see here. Some other scientific outcomes are here.

First comes the contribution by Riccardo Rigon (GS) group: here.
Contribution by Rocco Scolozzi and Davide Geneletti (GS) is here. Rocco's YouTube video.
Other contributions to come.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Start it up again

I am reflecting about what to do in the next Fall. Last year was heavy but the workflow was following a given track, and I have not to think about what to do . This incoming Fall will be a little different.  Looking forward, I obviously have wishes, but reality are the people I am working with that keep me on more concrete goals. So I have four or five offsprings, since I am working directly with five students (let’s call them S1 to S5, they know who is who).

The first direction of work is the consolidation S1 work, but not limited to it. This work, during the last year, covered mainly the systematising of the theory of travel times, producing a (imho) beautiful paper which was not so much recognised yet. This happened because we could not access, so far, reliable-enough tracers' data to test the theory, improve details of our informatics accordingly, and continue the thread of publications in that research direction. One single publication on a topic is usually quite invisible if it is proposed by newcomers (as we are in this topic). 
We also redirected part of S1 work towards the building of an operational hydrological model, which is a task with its own pain. It was based on a (relatively) new partition of (lumped) hillslope fluxes that was necessary to test by itself. This work is at a good stage but the initial goals, of fully testing and have it operational, has been only partially accomplished so far. Much work is required in the Fall to arrive to a full completion of the task which would allow also an easy (without pain) reproducibility of the results (it is a long story.  To see models that work in papers and do not work so fairly in my implementation, is a constant of my research life). Getting a new cleaned version of the new model would mean also cleaning the Adige-Hymod component ("the old model"), to use it for comparison. Documentation of the new model has to be completed on the GEOframe blog too. This could involve distilling some of what already done for the 2017 hydrology class. Understanding the limitations of the new model would be also an achievement, especially regarding some details of the hydrographs that are reproduced systematically wrong. Hopefully this work would lead to a  paper on modelling*  (which could be under our - mine and student's- control) and others that the new arrangement of reservoirs allows in term of processes description (which is not fully under our control, since we need data produced by other researchers). S1 has to be pro-active in this.

Student 1 approach is very much based on a new engine to run modelling solutions described by graphs (to see what I mean, please see here). This task has been pretty much on the shoulders of S2 who did a good job in understanding how OMS works and in implementing a graph-based way to execute in parallel the models implemented in each node. This was constructed with the idea that graphs can describe many type of interaction, but the first implementations are to describe a river network hydrology, having hillslopes (or better HRU as, see the introduction of this paper). It cannot be considered a final work until the modifications he introduced will not flow into the OMS mainstream code. Besides, I am sure the idea is so fertile that several and several generalisation of the system will follow.

This informatics, behind the tree-graph engine, can produce a paper that could be written in the incoming Fall, especially if more than one exemplificative modelling solutions could be shown to work with it*. S2 tells me that the next main problem is to make the calibration machineries of OMS to work properly with various modeling solutions and spatial arrangements. But I am confident that, with the help of Olaf David (OD), this can be obtained reasonably soon. One further steep in informatics, would be to use the CSIP infrastructure to run our modelling solutions on the UNITN multiprocessor system.

Overall S2 has interaction with most of the other guys (see also below). His effort can be summarised in saying, that he is contributing practically and theoretically, in building an infrastructure for scientific productivity and science reproducibility. I think from his cooperative work, a new version of OMS will come out, and his work will also result in some new interesting papers.
The branch of the work in which S2 works is the one I know personally the least. I am conscious that this can cause frustration since he has to explore, mainly by himself, the unexplored. Hope that OD can fill the empty space, but I will try to do a little effort to reduce the gap myself, even if I cannot guarantee the results. 

S3 is working on finding his way. The idea is to work with him on the irrigation demand. This has two non hydrological aspects, the climatological and the plant’s one. The climatological regards the expectation one has in certain places to have certain temperature, radiation (CO2 contents); the plants' response has to do with their response/adaptation to the climate forcing. However, I left out, to mention now,  the third aspect, the hydrological one that has to do with water availability. This, in turn, has also two aspects, the natural one, which, in part, falls in the climatological area, and the human intervention. On the first, we dare to say,  we are experts, and have models to treat with it, especially GEOtop and its evolutions, but also JGrass-NewAGE. However, we should not give for granted  that the description of water movemente in “natural” settings, could not be improved. On the second, personally, I am a parvenù, and I have a lot to learn. Involving humans, accounting for  anthropic behavior and conflicts, could not be out of the horizon, but also how to connect the hydraulics of human infrastructures with the “natural" environment cannot given for granted. So S3 has a perspective to build and a focus to create on just a few of the aspects of this complex question (he, we, will not able to deal with everything): with the second year of the Ph.D incoming S3 has to search this  consistently and produce a couple of research questions to live along in the next two or three years. It could or could be not in one of the aspects I like the most (modelling, and thinking to the infrastructure -physics and informatics- to give answers) but he has (we have) to take decisions.

S4 is working on Richards equation (again!).  The roadmap is well traced, into enriching the actual 1d code with, among possible other aspects: 1- the energy budget; 2 - the freezing: 3- the withdraw either a- natural and b-human; 4 - the interaction with surface water (either as source of pressure or element where runoff is produced). A few others: a - to make explicit the vapour flux inside soil, and therefore, add a further budget; b - to include an explicit treatment of the water (molecules) age, according to theories well defined around year 2000; c - be more explicit in describing water functioning by introducing plants thermodynamics and hydraulics (a topic, the latter where convergence can be found with S3). We focused our first attention on freezing soil aspects, but the whole CZO studies are waiting for tools.
This roadmap is to be broken into steps  to  get along with  before to switch to a full 3D implementation. There are aspects of this research (also described from a different point o view here) that could represent possibilities with strong interactions with S2. S2 graph infrastructure, in fact, should be versatile enough to be able to run, at its node several of these codes, which exchanges, for instance, just water remaining at the surface. Besides, there remain the big problem on how to get the best computational parallel behavior in multiprocessor or multicores machines, under the hood, i.e. without the hydrologist has to take care too much about it (what we call implicit parallelism). But this is just one of the further possible directions to investigate on the informatics side. 
There are a lot of technical mini-issues in all of these topics (which are not mini, at the end). For instance why we do not adopt a more reliable method than CSV for input and output files (I know at least two: one is netcdf, the second is sqlite files/databases) ?

S5 is concerned with Urban Hydrology. His committment is about absorbing SWMM (its site here) concepts and organisation into a new system which include a designing tool compatible with it. It's just a master thesis, but I have expectations on his work. Today SWMM relies on old physics and, above all, is not a designing tool. For who is interested, we did some experience and work around by using different tools (GISWATER, QGIS, Docker) in the experiment we made with students last semester. I think was hard but fun, and we will see the results with the next week finals. Let's what we will be able to produce in future to bring the infrastructure into OMS (OD told me that he already has a ported version of SWMM, let's see if we can find it in some drawer).

Seen from the bottom, and the real work of people, all our enterprise seems matter of ordinary  work and, accordingly, of incremental work, while science, instead, is often said to be looking for paradigmatic changes. However, this is only an impression. There are only a few models (or models component) like ours and our model were conceived since long ago (here a brief compendium of ideas) to set the base for those paradigmatic changes just mentioned. Hydrology has been said to be a dilectantistic field, where physical issues are never really solved and people get accostumed with solutions that just work. My attention to informatics is for freeing people from the legacy of too much constraining tools, allowing third parties inspection of scientific work, and making easier the implementation of new modelling approaches and ideas. I think we are close to this, and we should perseverate on this road.

Before closing this, I just want to refocus on the two possible papers I mentioned above.

S1 paper cannot be justified itself by saying that it is "a new model". So the scientific question has to be a different one. For instance, 1 - which is the minimal set of reservoirs that allows to describe evapotranspiration correctly; 2 - How the introduction of these reservoirs alter the overall residence-travel time; 3 - Is the age of evapotranspirated water in this model different from the age of the runoff water ? 4 - can we say something abot the information that flows around ?

*S2 paper can be justified by saying that it make much more flexible the building of models, either because it is possible to include different types of "models" in each node and also because, we can add and delete nodes (and the relative connections) without altering the rest of the model structure at run time. For instance, in a spatially semi-distribute model, that  works for giving the proper water budget of a catchment, we can add an intake or a reservoir, to see what does change. Or, in the same way, maintaining the same spatial organisation, we can change the runoff production mode in each node wihout excessive reprogramming burden. Looking also how the performance scales with the number of nodes, for instance in comparison, with ADIGE Hymod, could also be of interest.

In any of the two case, we have to keep in mind that a paper is a narrative of something that can be (or should ?) be different from simply describing the tool we have in our hand and it became interesting only when it is finalise to fill a gap in our current knowledge or overcome the current state of art. (What can we do that before was not possible ? Why it is good for research ? Why it is good for operational systems ? How it affects performances ? How it affects performances of researchers ? 

Monday, June 5, 2017

A method for determining optimal observations for prediction

This is the seminar given in Trento on May 30th by Henk Dijkstra (GS). Henk is mainly an oceanographer but the methods he illustrates, especially the Bayesian tools he develops towards the end of his presentation can be useful also in hydrological cases, so I am very happy to host his talk here.
The discussion that followed is here:

The slides of the talk are here. And here is the paper by Kramer et al. (JPO 2012), Measuring the Impact of Observations on the Predictability of the Kuroshio Extension in a Shallow-Water Model.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

How to misinterpret photosynthesis measurements and develop incorrect ecosystem models

At recent EGU General Assembly in Wien, I saw an interesting presentation by Professor Ian Colin Prentice (GS) entitled: How to misinterpret photosynthesis measurements and develop incorrect ecosystem models. I believe I already cited some of his papers (in our Precise proposal and “Can we trust Climate models?”), however, I did not faced his thinking directly. I would lie if I said that I understood his point. I am far too ignorant of the Carbon cycle and the way to measure it to understand. However, I accept the challenge to to start somewhere, because understanding the carbon cycle helps certainly to understand evapotranspiration
Please find below some relevant picture of his slides and, just after the paper(s) he cited. Probably reading those papers can be a starting point to understand.
I. C. Prentice, X. Liang, B. E. Medlyn , and Y.-P. Wang, Reliable, robust and realistic: the three R’s of next-generation land-surface modelling, ACP, 2015 
Hoffman, F. M., J. T. Randerson, V. K. Arora, Q. Bao, P. Cadule, D. Ji, C. D. Jones, M. Kawamiya, S. Khatiwala, K. Lindsay, A. Obata, E. Shevliakova, K. D. Six, J. F. Tjiputra, E. M. Volodin, and T. Wu (2014), Causes and implications of persistent atmospheric carbon dioxide biases in Earth System Models, J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci., 119, 141–162, doi:10.1002/2013JG002381.
H. D. Graven, R. F. Keeling, S. C. Pipe, P. K. Patra, B. B. Stephens, S. C. Wofsy, L. R. Welp, C. Sweeney, P. P. Tans, J. J. Kelley, B. C. Daube, E. A. Kort, G. W. Santoni, J. D. Bent Enhanced Seasonal Exchange of CO2 by Northern Ecosystems Since 1960, Science 2013
Wenzel, S., P. M. Cox, V. Eyring, andP. Friedlingstein (2014), Emergent constraints on climate-carbon cycle feedbacks in the CMIP5 Earth system models, J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci., 119,794–807, doi:10.1002/2013JG002591 
Ainsworth EA1, Long SP, What have we learned from 15 years of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE)? A meta-analytic review of the responses of photosynthesis, canopy properties and plant production to rising CO2., New Phytol. 2005 Feb;165(2):351-71.
Ning Dong, Iain Colin Prentice, Bradley J. Evans , Stefan Caddy-Retalic, Andrew J. Lowe, and Ian J. Wright, Leaf nitrogen from first principles: field evidence for adaptive variation with climate, Biogeosciences, 14, 481–495, 2017 doi:10.5194/bg-14-481-2017 
Zaehle, S., Medlyn, B. E., De Kauwe, M. G., Walker, A. P., Dietze, M. C., Hickler, T., Luo, Y., Wang, Y.-P., El-Masri, B., Thornton, P., Jain, A., Wang, S., Warlind, D., Weng, E., Parton, W., Iversen, C. M., Gallet-Budynek, A., McCarthy, H., Finzi, A., Hanson, P. J., Prentice, I. C., Oren, R. and Norby, R. J. (2014), Evaluation of 11 terrestrial carbon–nitrogen cycle models against observations from two temperate Free-Air CO2 Enrichment studies. New Phytol, 202: 803–822. doi:10.1111/nph.12697 

César Terrer, Sara Vicca,Bruce A. Hungate,Richard P. Phillips,I. Colin Prentice, Mycorrhizal association as a primary control of the CO2 fertilization effect, Science 2016