Investigation of Software Tools for Visualization of Results from Water Resources Planning Models
Project ID: 3265
Principal Investigator: Thomas FitzHugh
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2015
Keywords: water resources planning models; software development; data visualization
What database, visualization, programming, and scripting tools would work best for developing a generic data visualization interface for timeseries outputs from water resources planning models? For data handling and management, the specific focus here will be on models that use the HEC-DSS format, but much of the scoping information generated here will be relevant to models that use other data output formats too.
Need and Benefit
Water resources planning studies typically require multiple runs of complicated models which have a large number of inputs and outputs. Efficiently analyzing the results of these models can be a challenge because of the large volume of data involved and the complexity of model behavior. Innovative approaches for quickly summarizing and visualizing model outputs and determining which factors control model behavior are necessary for effective use of such models in planning studies. Existing software is generally limited in terms of one or more of the following factors: (1) the volume of data that can be efficiently handled, (2) availability of visualization options relevant to water resources analysis, and (3) availability of a scripting language for customization and control diagnostics. High end database and visualization tools can also be cost prohibitive and proprietary, which limits their usefulness in situations where model results need to be distributed.
Hence there is a need for a generic database and visualization package with scripting capabilities for customization that can used to analyze results from numerous different water resources planning models. The intended package users are technical modeling staff who would use the tool during model development and results analysis. While the specific outputs from water resources planning models vary depending on model type (water operations, surface water hydrology, water quality), it is believed that a common visualization framework can be developed that is both user-friendly and applicable to results from all these models, allowing not only visualization of results from individual models but also integration of results from different models.
In terms of data handling and management, a specific focus of this effort will be on models that use the HEC-DSS format. Examples of models used by Reclamation that use HEC-DSS for data management are CalSim, CalLite, HEC-5Q, and Riverware. Speedy access to data in HEC-DSS format is challenging because of inherit limitations in its underlying libraries, hence part of the scoping conducted here will be to evaluate open source alternatives to HEC-DSS such as NetCDF and SQLite. Developing alternatives to HEC-DSS will be of interest to analysts throughout Reclamation and to our partner agencies and stakeholders.
Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.
Bureau of Reclamation Review
The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.
Investigation of Software Tools for Visualization of Results from Water Resources Planning Models (final, PDF,
By David O'Connor
Publication completed on September 30, 2015