Environmental Modeling Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Final Report Page: 1 of 6
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Environmental Modeling Research at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill: Final Report
Grant Number: FG02-02ER63369
Mechanistic mathematical models of environmental systems are used routinely to
assess our understanding of the operative complex processes in nature. As our
understanding matures, the complexity of these models increases and so too does
the effort required to construct such models. This effort can be person years in
some cases, and changes in model formulations or methods frequently leads to the
need to either perform major revisions of existing codes or to abandon an existing
code and recode the majority of the simulator. This project was intended to be a
proof of concept approach aimed at developing a problem solving environment
for the development of environmental models. The domain of focus was fluid
flow and species transport in subsurface, porous medium systems. An approach
was developed in which a mathematical model formulation was specified in
LaTeX and this text document was processed, or compiled, multiple times to
ultimately result in a computational simulator or model. The DOE developed
Common Component Architecture paradigm was leveraged to implement solvers
for reactions, integrators, algorithms, and discretization methods. A set of test
problems was solved and the overall conclusion of the project is that a problem
solving environment to support environmental modeling is certainly within
scientific reach at this time.
Nature of Project
This project investigated the design and implementation of a problem-solving
environment (PSE) for subsurface flow and transport phenomena. Broadly, the
goal of the PSE is to transform a range of questions about subsurface phenomena
into numerical simulations. The questions are expressed using a mathematical
model, and the simulations must incorporate appropriate algorithms and
computational methods to efficiently yield reliable answers.
Subsurface systems are of interest for a number of reasons, including the fact that
the Department of Energy (DOE) must assess and manage DOE installations
where past waste disposal practices have contaminated the subsurface
environment. Computational models do and will continue to play an important
role in efforts to characterize subsurface systems, including the management and
remediation of hazardous waste sites. More effective and reliable decisions will
result as models become increasingly realistic and accessible.
Unfortunately, the ability of computational models to characterize subsurface
systems adequately and provide the information necessary for decision-making is
limited at best. There are several reasons for the current state of subsurface
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Miller, C.T. Environmental Modeling Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Final Report, report, December 19, 2006; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc884968/m1/1/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.