Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
17 Mar 2009
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper for further review has not been submitted.
Next generation framework for aquatic modeling of the Earth System
B. M. Fekete1,*, W. M. Wollheim2, D. Wisser2, and C. J. Vörösmarty1,* 1CUNY Environmental Cross-roads Initiative, The City College of New York at the City University of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, New York, 10031, USA
2Complex Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, 39 College Rd., Durham, 03824, USA
*also at: NOAA-Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center, The City College of New York at the City University of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, New York, 10031, USA
Abstract. Earth System model development is becoming an increasingly complex task. As scientists attempt to represent the physical and bio-geochemical processes and various feedback mechanisms in unprecedented detail, the models themselves are becoming increasingly complex. At the same time, the complexity of the surrounding IT infrastructure is growing as well. Earth System models must manage a vast amount of data in heterogeneous computing environments. Numerous development efforts are on the way to ease that burden and offer model development platforms that reduce IT challenges and allow scientists to focus on their science. While these new modeling frameworks (e.g. FMS, ESMF, CCA, OpenMI) do provide solutions to many IT challenges (performing input/output, managing space and time, establishing model coupling, etc.), they are still considerably complex and often have steep learning curves.

The Next generation Framework for Aquatic Modeling of the Earth System (NextFrAMES, a revised version of FrAMES) have numerous similarities to those developed by other teams, but represents a novel model development paradigm. NextFrAMES is built around a modeling XML that lets modelers to express the overall model structure and provides an API for dynamically linked plugins to represent the processes. The model XML is executed by the NextFrAMES run-time engine that parses the model definition, loads the module plugins, performs the model I/O and executes the model calculations. NextFrAMES has a minimalistic view representing spatial domains and treats every domain (regardless of its layout such as grid, network tree, individual points, polygons, etc.) as vector of objects. NextFrAMES performs computations on multiple domains and interactions between different spatial domains are carried out through couplers. NextFrAMES allows processes to operate at different frequencies by providing rudimentary aggregation and disaggregation facilities.

NextFrAMES was designed primarily for hydrological modeling purposes, but many of its functionality should be applicable for a wide range of land surface models. In its present capabilities NextFrAMES is probably inadequate to implement fully coupled Earth System models, but future versions with the guidance from Earth System developers might someday eliminate its limitations. Our intent with NextFrAMES is to initiate a dialog about new ways of expressing models that is less tied to the actual implementation and allow scientist to develop models at a more abstract level.

Citation: Fekete, B. M., Wollheim, W. M., Wisser, D., and Vörösmarty, C. J.: Next generation framework for aquatic modeling of the Earth System, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss., 2, 279-307,, 2009.
B. M. Fekete et al.
B. M. Fekete et al.


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