The IML-CZO uses several conceptual and numerical models to investigate coupled earth surface processes. Our dual event-and-continuum conceptual framework lends itself to novel modeling approaches based on the identification of activity centers and tracking of their connectivity by analyzing emerging patterns of key state variables across scales with multiplicity of types of changes – changes in mean, variance, extremes/outliers, trends, and steps. This will include modeling of:

  • Soil structure formation (Theme A)
  • Microbial and nutrient dynamics (Theme B)
  • Surface and groundwater interactions (Theme C)
  • Landscape evolution (Theme A & D)

The analysis of observational data and modeling results, which will be derived from the network of sites in this IML-CZO, will be used to study the feedbacks of different processes, capture responses to change, and perform upscaling. Finally, we will develop typologies based on similarity approaches for extrapolating our results to larger scales in the Midwest and similar low-gradient IMLs worldwide.

Conceptual model of an experimental farm with mobile sensor platform to support experiments at the activity centers.

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The IML-CZO is using an integrated modeling approach that provides a framework for integrating high-resolution data (e.g., LiDAR, hyperspectral imagery) and event-driven dynamics, shaping and shaped by long-term dynamics, to provide a broader scale prediction and assessment framework. This effort will build upon the extensive modeling experience in our team and also draw upon other available models in collaboration with other CZOs. By necessity, this effort requires multi-model exploration for process level understanding, systematically leading to theories that result in developing a integrated model of IMLs. We envision our modeling to not simply be a programming exercise but an instrument to iteratively create, test, and refine mathematical theories of components, as well as coupled dynamics, and to resolve competing scientific notions that lead to better understanding and prediction. Table 1 provides a possible list of models from which an intellectual foundation can be drawn to explore knowledge gaps and formulate a more complete theory of CZ dynamics.

Existing Models/Modules Available as Starting Points for Proposed IML-CZO Modeling

  • Bioturbation
  • Soil structure formation
  • Microbial and nutrient dynamics
  • Vegetation-soil water interaction
  • Spatial hydrology
  • Surface- and groundwater interaction
  • Landscape evolution
  • Stochastic weather generator

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