The Stroud Water Research Center received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop educational tools that encourage students to simulate changes to the landscape, explore hydrology and how environmental changes impact watersheds. With Model My Watershed, users interact with actual scientific data and real-world hydrological models so they can understand the decisions that professionals must make when setting land development policies and changing environmental practices.
To address these needs, we developed three modules that comprise the Model My Watershed application.
The Simple Water Balance Simulator enables students to understand how water flow and balance changes based on rainfall, land use, and soil type. In the Show My Watershed module, students take that general knowledge and apply it to an actual geographic area. After defining an area of interest on the map, the students can view the land use for that area and discover how the water balance changes based on daily rainfall. The Modify My Watershed application provides students with economic, water quality, and other goals that must be met by changing practices within the watershed. The students must decide how to set land cover restrictions or implement green infrastructure practices in order to meet the planning goals without going over the set budget.
We used GeoTrellis, our open source high performance geographic data processing engine, to run the hydrologic models and quickly return results as students adjust parameters.