GeoWorld September 2011

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BY KYLE WILCOX AND TIFFANY C. VANCE Ride the Wave M Ocean Scientists Use Cloud Computing to Model Dispersion odels provide a way to understand the com- plex interactions of biological and physical processes. For example, the movement of dust plumes generated on continents over the adjoin- ing oceans can be modeled for the physical process of particle transport and the geochemical effects of dust deposition on ocean life. Models also can describe and link two physical pro- cesses: a model can be used to simulate the complex 3-D movement of ocean currents, and the results can be linked to models that predict the movement of many waterborne objects such as fish and larvae, oil from seeps or accidental spills, and marine debris. Models can be computed in one, two, three or four dimensions. 1-D models describe the motion of particles at a point in an imaginary stream or other linear feature, and they're common in modeling rivers and streams. Adding a second dimension allows a model to show the evolution of patterns in vertical or, more commonly, hori- zontal slices of space or planes. 3-D models simulate the movement of particles horizontally and vertically. 4-D mod- els provide spatial and temporal understanding and can be used to study the evolution of patterns with time. Locating Larvae One of the more common uses of particle-tracking models is to study the dispersion of marine fish larvae. Many marine fishes spawn in areas where their larvae, after hatching, are subject to dispersion due to currents. Dispersion of marine larval fish is highly dependent on physical conditions and ranges widely by ecosystem and species. This dispersion can affect survival and growth. 18 GEO W ORLD / SEPTEMBE R 2O11 Environmental GIS

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