Reports and Papers

Fedra, K. (1995)
Decision support for natural resources management:
Models, GIS and expert systems.
AI Applications, 9/3 (1995) pp 3-19.

GIS and Spatially Distributed Models

Most environmental and resource management problems do have an obvious spatial dimension. Within the domain of environmental modeling this is addressed by spatially distributed models that describe environmental phenomena in one (for example, in river models), two (land, atmospheric and water quality models, models of population dynamics), or three dimensions (again air and water models). The increasing development and use of spatially distributed models replacing simple spatially aggregated or lumped parameter models is, at least in part, driven by the availability of more and more powerful and affordable computers (Fedra and Loucks, 1985, Loucks and Fedra, 1987).

On the other hand, geographical information systems are tools to capture, manipulate, process and display spatial or geo-referenced data. They contain both geometry data (coordinates and topological information) and attribute data, ie., information describing the properties of geometrical spatial objects such as points, lines, and areas.

In GIS, the basic concept is one of location, of spatial distribution and relationship, basic elements are spatial objects. In environmental modeling, by contrast, the basic concept is one of state, expressed in terms of numbers, mass, or energy, of interaction and dynamics; the basic elements are biological species, chemicals, and environmental media such as air, water or sediment.

The overlap and relationship is apparent, and thus the integration of these two fields of research, technologies, or sets of methods, that is, their paradigms, is an obvious and promising idea (Fedra 1994, 1993a).

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