NAU student creates tool to make modeling easier for environmentalists – The NAU Review



Xin huang wants to make modeling and using big data easier for everyone, especially environmentalists who don’t have a lot of computer programming experience. As a third-year doctoral student at the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University, Huang saw a technical barrier between the Earth system modeling community and environmentalists who wish to improve models with data: coding.

That’s why she created a user interface called “MIDA” – model independent data assimilation – which allows a scientist to enhance a model with data without extensive coding experience. The resulting study, “A model-independent data assimilation module (MIDA) and its applications in ecology, ”Was published in Development of geoscientific models and is Huang’s first senior author publication.

“A model is a powerful tool for approaching the future, which is why we wanted to expand access with this software,” Huang said. “In this data-rich era, we are using data assimilation to integrate abundant observations into models. If an environmentalist wishes to train a model but does not have extensive programming experience, he may encounter technical problems. This software aims to remove this barrier.

Huang is a member of Yiqi Luo EcoLab, where she and her colleagues are working to make Earth system models faster and more accurate through data assimilation and the matrix approach. “Even if a model is perfect, we need observations to constrain it. So, data assimilation is a tool we use to bring the model and our observations together, to create a clearer picture of what the future looks like. “

Huang, who received his master’s degree from Tsinghua University in China, said he published in Development of geoscientific models means a lot to her, because the journal is a reference in its field. The article was co-authored by the research associate Come Jiang, postdoctoral fellow Enqing Hou, and professor of the Regents Yiqi Luo of the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, and Assistant Professor Igor steinmacher and professor of the regents Andrew Richardson from the School of Computer Science, Computer Science and Cyber ​​Systems.

What’s next for Huang? She plans to use MIDA and data from the SPRUCE project in northern Minnesota to improve ecological predictions.

“Climate forecasts, like weather forecasts, come with uncertainties,” Huang said. “When we talk about modeling future aspects of climate, this uncertainty is enormous, especially around the nature of carbon sources and sinks and the processes that drive them. This is the job I want to dive into next. “

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Kate Petersen | Center for Ecosystem Science and Society


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