Technical Support for Data for Environmental Modeling (D4EM) Collaborative Development Project
Client: U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, Washington D.C.
The primary goal of this project was to extend the development and
support of GIS-based software tools for the access, display and
processing of geo-spatial data. Modeling teams at the U.S. EPA
Ecosystems Research Division (ERD) of the Office of Research and
Development (ORD) and the Office of Water (OW) sought a common
GIS-based software and data system. Specifically, this project involved
providing technical support to the ERD modeling community for the
BASINS and MapWindow software systems.
The project team was comprised of AQUA TERRA Consultants as the
prime contractor and Idaho State University (ISU) and the Texas
Agricultural Extension Service at Texas A&M University (TAES) as
sub-contractors. AQUA TERRA Consultants’ primary function during this
project was to provide technical direction, software testing and
administrative support while ISU had primary responsibility for GIS
related software development and TAMU provided technical support for
Figure 1: A screenshot of the BASINS MapWindow GUI.
Development of the Map Window Interface
A major technical aspect of this project was to finish converting
objects in the MapWindow environment to modular Microsoft .NET tools
which was begun by members of the Open Source Community and ISU.
Conversion and development efforts included:
- Finalization of the MapWindow Geoprocessing API and development of Map
Algebra, Selection Tools, Hydraulic Terrain Analysis and other
- Development of a new Geoprocessing Graphical User Interface built as a MapWindow plugin.
- Implementing spatial database support allowing attachment of
MySQL, Oracle and PostGres data as native MapWinGIS shapefiles and
other non-native formats such as OGR.
- Conversion of the MapWindow ActiveX environment to .NET
architecture to implement new features such as layer partial
transparency and full object oriented architecture.
The result of these efforts gave rise to MapWindows 6.0, the first full .NET implementation of the MapWindow GIS suite of tools.
Figure 2: The D4EM component diagram.
Development of the Data Manager Component of D4EM
Implementation of the Data Manager involved creating both GIS
functionality as well as standard data processing steps such as
statistical data manipulation. The Data Manager component of D4EM is
responsible for intermediate data processing required to transform
“raw” data (i.e., data retrieved from an original data source) into a
form required for model processing. The data download tool (EDDT) that
was developed by EPA staff is responsible for connecting to data
sources and downloading data to a local cache. The Data Manager was
implemented as a component of the BASINS modeling system originally
developed for the Office of Water.
Implementation of SWAT with FRAMES
The FRAMES modeling system provides a standards-based modeling
infrastructure that facilitates the linked execution of environmental
models. The Soil & Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was implemented
within FRAMES. AQUA TERRA and TAES built FRAMES dictionary files
containing details about all SWAT model inputs and outputs. The SWAT
parameter database range tables were used as a starting point for
building dictionary files. An automated process was used to build the
dictionary files so that changes to SWAT databases can be reflected in
the associated FRAMES dictionaries. A single table within SWAT was
developed for integration within FRAMES. The FRAMES Module Editor is
used to place Metadata about the SWAT model into the FRAMES system.
Data “wrappers” were developed for the off the shelf SWAT model. These
wrappers take data stored in FRAMES and translate it into text input
files required by SWAT. The wrappers also translate SWAT text output
into a format usable by FRAMES (and other models linked downstream).