Numerical simulation, using existing hydrodynamic/water quality models, can be an effective way to study ecosystem dynamics while accounting for complex physical and biological interactions. Unfortunately, numerical simulations tend to be very difficult to set up, they take a long time to run, and provide predictions that can be difficult to synthesize and interpret. As a result, this analytical approach typically has been used in engineering fields much more than ecology. To bring the power of numerical simulation to the ecological community, we have developed Lake Simulator.
The GLEON Simulator Web site allows users to submit numerical simulations of lakes to the CDI Condor pool. The user may submit a single simulation or hundreds or even thousands of simulations. Simulator will package each simulation separately, submit to the GLEON Condor pool, then receive and assemble the results for analysis. To date, hundreds of lake simulations have been run using this resource.
With Lake Simulator, we greatly simplify the input requirements of a numerical model and provide a mechanism for defining many model runs within a single spreadsheet. This allows the user to easily test different combinations of parameter values, for example, or changes to external driving variables, as would be done when running scenarios. Lake Simulator then submits a simulation (or a collection of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of simulations) to the GLEON Condor pool, which distributes those simulations among available compute resources. By distributing the collection of simulations, a job that would have taken days or weeks on a single computer can run and return its results in minutes. Lake simulator also retrieves the results of simulations, extracts the data from the results according to simple user setup defined at job submission, and automatically graphs the simulation results on the Web site. To date, hundreds of simulations have been submitted to Lake Simulator.