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The key word in the conference name, not reflected in this book's abbreviated title, is integration.The selection of sites in the Rocky Mountain region for the GIS/EM conferences over the years, Boulder, Breckenridge, Santa Fe, and Banff, was deliberate. It symbolized the divide between the two adjacent fields of environmental modeling and GIS. Environmental models, regardless of disciplinary specialization, shared a mathematical and statistical core, an algorithmic arid a methodological periphery, and common concerns of application, model effectiveness, calibration and validation, computational implementation, and utility. Geographic information systems combined methods and functions yet faced immense practical and theoretical barriers as they gained use as ubiquitous tools for the management, display, and analysis of spatial data. At the surface there was a common boundary at the divide based on needs: for data, for visualization of pattern, and for objective scientific problem solving. GIS brought the bright light of complex reality to the elegant but blemished face of simplified mathematical models. It was an uneasy meeting at first, but throughout the 1990s the crispness of the divide line became fuzzy, and the separate sciences became integrated in their quest to explain the world and its systems, rather than advocate a single discipline as holding the solutions. The GIS/EM4 visual used with permission for the conference and on the cover of this book, Escher's "Puddle," is an excellent metaphor for this transformed science. In a single glimpse, Escher integrates clouds and weather, trees and soil, rain and surface water. And yet this integrated view shows these physical phenomena by indirect refection, instead directing the viewer toward human impacts upon these "natural" environmental elements. Footsteps, vehicle tracks, and puddles hint at an unseen environmental modifier, homo sapiens. The scene makes sense only in unity, viewed through the puddle, just as the environment yields to simulation only by integrating knowledge.
The image of trees seen via a puddle in tire tracks is inverted and geometrically distorted, of course. Equally transformed is the environment, seen in isolation through the eyes of a single scientific discipline. In Chapter 12, the editors explain the logic behind the organization of GIS/EM4. The challenge, of course, is for scientists trained in depth as biologists, ecologists, geographers, geologists, and so forth, to think outside the box. Team research, involving disciplinary specialists and integrated science, is much harder than working in isolation. Universities recognize only departments, funding agencies have divisions, and disciplines have favorite journals, cultures, and traditions. It was this challenge, to think by synthesis and analysis, that was given to the authors of the chapters of this book. The editors met together for two years prior to the Banff conference, and slowly the chapter topics emerged. Next came a template, or generic look for a single chapter. Authors were selected by invitation, most self-identified. After generating a first draft, the pool of authors and others were used to peer-review the work. This continued through a review by the editors and a final production edit with the publishers. The final book was laid out by the first editor, and the last chapter was added to unify the book and to report the results of the conference. We hope that the result is a lasting tribute to the authors and the many people who have contributed to the quality of what you now see before you.
In Chapter 1, Nigel Waters presents a disciplinary perspective on the history of GIS/ EM. Any history must be disciplinary, of course, because there is no history of integrated science. Waters examines the geographic tradition of modeling, its roots in the quantitative revolution, and gives a perspective on the four GIS/EM conferences and their output. The chapter's Canadian flavor is a tribute to the Canadian venue for GIS/EM4. In Chapter 2, Helen Couclelis explores modeling frameworks, paradigms and approaches. Environmental modeling has often been bottom-up in the past, without a major consideration of theory of approach. The chapter discusses the complex systems paradigm, popular in recent approaches to environmental systems modeling and especially appropriate when GIS is involved. The impact of the computer itself as a contributor toward models is discussed, termed geocomputation. The computer is seen as a valuable test-tube in which experiments are feasible and useful, fortunately with benign environmental consequences. Chapter 3 examines the consequences of integrating GIS and environmental models for human decision making. The authors use a single decision support system that they have developed to demonstrate that when models and GIS are linked, the implications can follow all the way through the science to the application, including involving users in informed decision making by interacting with the GIS and models themselves. This theme has permeated the GIS/EM sequence, yet here the disciplinary divide is crossed to the extent that new inroads in social science seem possible and useful.
The role of data in GIS and environmental modeling has been of long concern. Chapter 4 reviews the state of the art from the point of view of data, especially data suitable for broad-scale modeling and GIS. Various data types and the issues of their use are examined, and new data streams with high potential for future use are highlighted. Included is a guide to the availability of the data over the World Wide Web. One wonders if in the future models themselves, or at least their predictions and forecasts, could be as easily accessed as the data. If so, then a high degree of interaction and integration could be accomplished with the Web as the vehicle.
Models, of course, are merely intellectual exercises in description without calibration and validation. In Chapter 5, Mauro Giudici examines these critical steps in modeling from the viewpoint of model theory and structure. The process of model development is presented in the light of the calibration and validation stages, and some examples of environmental model calibration are presented. In Chapter 6, Andrew Rogowski and Jennifer Goyne emphasize the fourth or time dimension in modeling. GIS allows us to collect multitemporal data for modeling, and new approaches allow us to use them to calibrate and build truly dynamic models. These models require new theory, and the relevant concepts are shown using two case studies in hydrology.
In the Escher print, humans made the puddle that forms the window on the world. In Chapter 7, Morgan Grove and his colleagues look at the problems inherent in building models that cross the human-physical divide. Complexity again comes into play here, and the chapter examines future directions that clearly are paths GIS/EM needs to follow if integrated science is to be fully productive. Chapter 8 shows the other side of the coin, with Helena Mitasova and Lubos Mitas giving methodololgical and practical examples of the importance of process modeling for physical systems. Separate discussions of human and physical systems beg a discussion of issues of integration. Steven Frysinger examines in Chapter 9 what concerns arise from integration, including model interactions, uncertainty propagation, and user interface issues. The chapter also covers practical tools and approaches that allow integration to take place in modeling systems.
In Chapter 10, Brendan Mackey and Shawn Leffan give some examples from down under. The editors anticipate that educational use of this book will emphasize the case study approach. A series of case studies are presented via a typology of models in such a way that the reader can ask questions of communality, method, and direction. The models discussed involve applications of GIS to predictive vegetation mapping, forest ecosystem processes, assessment of wild river status, integrated modeling of global change, and integrated land use assessment as a GIS/environmental modeling learning tool.
GIS has always provided for modeling a direct link to visualization tools, whether for simple mapping or three-dimensional and animated display. In Chapter 11, Reed Copsey uses the Environmental Visualization System software's capabilities to demonstrate and explore the methods, capabilities, and problems specific to visualization of environmental data. While many GIS packages offer these capabilities, others do not, demonstrating yet another place where systems integration offers the best solution. In the future these capabilities will be contained in GIS, or even in the models themselves. The editors hope that this again demonstrates the value of integrating software rather than duplicating systems. Finally, the editors in Chapter 12 record the last of the lessons of GIS/EM4, with a synopsis of the valuable workgroup discussions held in Banff, with the synthesis statement of the conference, and with some thoughts on future directions. The year 2001 finds the GIS/EM integrated science approach very much on the rise. We hope that this volume finds a role as a promoter of sound modeling, real data, and excellent science. The synergy of the participants at GIS/EM has been energizing. It is also greatly encouraging. With these tools and approaches, how many of our earth's problems can be solved, and how many in time to leave future inhabitants today's quality of life? The road ahead is clear, and the editors encourage the young and bold to step into the metaphorical puddle and start the journey.