Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Recommended hydrological modelling platform and future contribution

Participants were asked if any other open source hydrological modelling platform, such as PCRaster, could be recommended. This question was answered by two participants, one of whom commented, “I know of several but none that I would highly recommend as each has benefits/drawbacks”. The following alternatives to PCRASTER were recommended:

  • EPA SWMM-5 (Storm Water Management Model): source code is used by many of the major software brands, including MIKE-11 and ICM. It's flexible and allows the option of using a variety of tabular inputs for hydrologic and hydraulic parameters. Nevertheless, SWMM is specifically designed for storm water management in urban setting and may not meet the hydrological modelling needs identified in this survey.
  • Visual AEM: a graphical user interface for single- and multi-layer analytic element modelling of (mostly) steady-state groundwater flow and numerical/analytical modelling of vertically-averaged contaminant transport. Therefore, AEM may not be suitable for the needs identified here, which are mainly focused in the unsaturated zone and the computation of lateral flow.

Since no other suitable alternative to PCRASTER was suggested, we propose building a flexible hydrological model platform based on PCRaster. The PCRaster software has the following advantages:

  • Makes best usage of S-map data, which provides spatial physical soil hydrological parameters
  • Has a collection of software targeted at the development and deployment of spatio-temporal environmental models
  • Enables fast coding, is easy to read, maintain, modify (plug-and-play) and re-use by non-experts
  • Hosts  a wide range of visualisation tools
  • Executes fast by making use of parallel computing clusters
  • Has a flexible model structure
  • Has a number of global optimisation and sensitivity analysis tools
  • Is open source software
  • Is pixel-based for the input of the soil parameterization
  • Is suitable for small catchment scale.

It is encouraging that 40% of survey participants indicated their willingness to be involved in a collaborative development of a new hydrological modelling platform.