CSDMS 2014 annual meeting - Uncertainty and Sensitivity in Surface Dynamics Modeling

Creative computing with Landlab: A flexible Python package for rapidly building and exploring 2D surface-dynamics models

Greg Tucker

University of Colorado, Boulder, United States
Daniel Hobley University of Colorado, Boulder United States
Jordan Adams Tulane University United States
Nicole Gasparini Tulane University United States
Eric Hutton University of Colorado, Boulder United States
Erkan Istanbulluoglu University of Washington United States
Sai Siddhartha University of Washington United States

Computer models help us explore the consequences of scientific hypotheses at a level of precision and quantification that is impossible for our unaided minds. The process of writing and debugging the necessary code is often time-consuming, however, and this cost can inhibit progress. The code-development barrier can be especially problematic when a field is rapidly unearthing new data and new ideas, as is presently the case in surface dynamics.

To help meet the need for rapid, flexible model development, we have written a prototype software framework for two-dimensional numerical modeling of planetary surface processes. The Landlab software can be used to develop new models from scratch, to create models from existing components, or a combination of the two. Landlab provides a gridding module that allows you to create and configure a model grid in just a few lines of code. Grids can be regular or unstructured, and can readily be used to implement staggered-grid numerical solutions to equations for various types of geophysical flow. The gridding module provides built-in functions for common numerical operations, such as calculating gradients and integrating fluxes around the perimeter of cells. Landlab is written in Python, a high-level language that enables rapid code development and takes advantage of a wealth of libraries for scientific computing and graphical output. Landlab also provides a framework for assembling new models from combinations of pre-built components.

In this clinic we introduce Landlab and its capabilities. We emphasize in particular its flexibility, and the speed with which new models can be developed under its framework. In particular, we will introduce the many tools available within Landlab that make development of new functionality and new descriptions of physical processes both easy and fast. Participants will finish the clinic with all the knowledge necessary to build, run and visualize 2D models of various types of earth surface systems using Landlab.

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Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Coastal Working Group
  • Marine Working Group
  • Education and Knowledge Transfer (EKT) Working Group
  • Hydrology Focus Research Group