Open-Source Tools for Environmental Modeling

  • Ari Jolma
  • Daniel P. Ames
  • Ned Horning
  • Helena Mitasova
  • Markus Neteler
  • Aaron Racicot
  • Tim Sutton
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


Environmental modeling and management is an important application area for geographic information. At the outset of a modeling or management project, the location of the study is explored and existing data are mapped and visualized. When the project progresses, data need to be stored and equations need to be implemented. Free and open-source software (FOSS) provides tools that are shared by their developers to be used, studied, extended, and redistributed. The total body of FOSS is already enormous and includes a substantial collection of geospatial software. FOSS is maintained and developed further by a community, which can be freely joined and which appreciates contributions. The geospatial FOSS community, represented by the OSGeo foundation, develops several software products that can be linked together, to environmental models, and to other software. The software platform for environmental modeling and management is a set of tools and a set of services. Generic FOSS modeling tools, such as R and Python, have been made geospatially aware by geospatial FOSS libraries. Geospatial FOSS constitutes platforms for developing applications for environmental management. It supports web services well, which is an important part of the geospatial platform.


Geographic Information System Steiner Tree Structure Query Language Open Geospatial Consortium Storm Water Management Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.







application programming interface


American Standard Code for Information Interchange


better assessment science integrating point and nonpoint sources


US Bureau of Land Management


Computational Geometry Algorithms Library


common language infrastructure


Comprehensive Perl Archive Network


Comprehensive R Archive Network


digital elevation model


decision support system


US Environmental Protection Agency


Food and Agriculture Organization


foreign function interface


free and open-source software


Geospatial Data Abstraction Library


Geometry Engine – Open Source


Geographic Information System


GNU linear programming kit


GNU object model environment


Geographic Resources Analysis Support System


graphical user interface


integrated assessment


interprocess communication


Java Topology Suite


K desktop environment


GNU Lesser General Public License


light detection and ranging, Laser Scanning


Multilateral Interoperability Programme


nautical miles


Open Geospatial Consortium


OpenGIS Simple Features Reference Implementation


Open Source Geospatial Foundation


Perl Data Language


Persistence of Vision Raytracer


Python Package Index


relational database management system


System for Automated Geoscientific Analyses


spatial modeling environment


Structured Query Language


soil and water assessment tool


Sensor Web Enablement


simplified wrapper and interface generator


storm water management model


Standard Widget Toolkit


United Nations


United Nations Environment Programme


United States Geological Survey


virtual machine


Web Coverage Service


United Nations World Food Programme


Web Feature Service


well known binary


Web Map Server


Web Processing Service


Extensible Application Markup Language


Extensible Markup Language


International Environmental Modeling and Software Society


  1. 31.1.
    A. Voinov, R.R. Hood, J.D. Daues, H. Assaf, R. Stewart: Building a community modelling and information sharing culture. In: Environmental Modelling, Software and Decision Support, ed. by A.J. Jakeman, A.A. Voinov, A.E. Rizzoli, S.H. Chen (Elsevier, Amsterdam 2008)Google Scholar
  2. 31.2.
    E.S. Raymond: The Art of Unix Programming (Addison-Wesley, Boston 2003)Google Scholar
  3. 31.3.
    R. Stallman: The GNU Manifesto, Dr. Dobbʼs J. Softw. Tools 10(3), 30–35 (1985)Google Scholar
  4. 31.4.
    H. Harvey, D. Han: The relevance of Open Source to hydroinformatics, J. Hydroinform. 4(4), 219–234 (2002)Google Scholar
  5. 31.5.
    M.F. Goodchild, L.T. Steyaert, B.O. Parks (Eds.): Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Modeling (Oxford Univ. Press, New York 1993)Google Scholar
  6. 31.6.
    M.F. Goodchild, L.T. Steyaert, B.O. Parks (Eds.): GIS and Environmental Modeling: Progress and Research Issues (GIS World, Fort Collins 1996)Google Scholar
  7. 31.7.
    M.F. Goodchild, L.T. Steyaert, B.O. Parks (Eds.): Proceedings, Proc. 3rd Conf. GIS Environ. Model., NCGIA, Santa Fe (1996), (CD-ROM)Google Scholar
  8. 31.8.
    K.C. Clarke, B.O. Parks, M.P. Crane: Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Modeling (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River 2002)Google Scholar
  9. 31.9.
    K. Kovar, H.P. Nachtnebel (Eds.): Application of geographic information systems in hydrology and water resources management, Proc. HydroGIS ʼ93 Conf., Vienna (IAHS Press, Wallingford 1993)Google Scholar
  10. 31.10.
    K. Kovar, H.P. Nachtnebel (Eds.): Application of geographic information systems in hydrology and water resources management, Proc. HydroGIS ʼ96 Conf., Vienna (IAHS Press, Wallingford 1996)Google Scholar
  11. 31.11.
    A.J. Jakeman, A.A. Voinov, A.E. Rizzoli, S.H. Chen (Eds.): Environmental Modeling, Software and Decision Support (Elsevier, Amsterdam 2008)Google Scholar
  12. 31.12.
    D.A. Swayne, W. Yang, A.A. Voinov, A.E. Rizzoli, T. Filatova (Eds.): Modelling for environmentʼs sake, Proc. iEMSs Forth Bienn. Meet. Int. Congr. Environ. Model. Softw. (iEMSs 2010) (International Environmental Modelling and Software Society, Ottawa 2010)Google Scholar
  13. 31.13.
    Chesapeake Bay research community, Chesapeakecommunity modeling program: (last accessed January 5, 2011)
  14. 31.14.
    OpenStreetMap: (last accessed January 5, 2011)
  15. 31.15.
    OpenStreetMap, WikiProject Haiti: (last accessed January 5, 2011)
  16. 31.16.
    OSGeo Live development, Open Source Geospatial Foundation: (last accessed January 5, 2011)
  17. 31.17.
    S. Davis: GIS for Web Developers: Adding Where to Your Web Applications (Pragmatic Bookself, Raleigh 2007)Google Scholar
  18. 31.18.
    T. Mitchell: Web Mapping Illustrated (OʼReilly, Sebastopol 2005)Google Scholar
  19. 31.19.
    G.E. Sherman: Desktop GIS: Mapping the Planet with Open Source Tools (Pragmatic Bookshelf, Raleigh 2008)Google Scholar
  20. 31.20.
    A.J. Jakeman, S.H. Chen, A.E. Rizzoli, A.A. Voinov: Modelling and software as instruments for advancing sustainability. In: Environmental Modelling, Software and Decision Support, ed. by A.J. Jakeman, A.A. Voinov, A.E. Rizzoli, S.H. Chen (Elsevier, Amsterdam 2008)Google Scholar
  21. 31.21.
    M.B. Abbot, J.C. Refsgaard (Eds.): Distributed Hydrological Modeling (Kluwer, Dordrecht 1996)Google Scholar
  22. 31.22.
    A.E. Rizzoli, W.J. Young: Delivering environmental decision support systems: Software tools and techniques, Environ. Model. Softw. 12(2/3), 237–249 (1997)Google Scholar
  23. 31.23.
    The System Dynamics Society, University at Albany, Albany: (last accessed January 6, 2011)
  24. 31.24.
    J. Pearl: Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference, 2nd edn. (Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco 1988)Google Scholar
  25. 31.25.
    A.J. Jakeman, R.A. Letcher, J.P. Norton: Ten iterative steps in development and evaluation of environmental models, Environ. Model. Softw. 21, 602–614 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 31.26.
    M.N. DeMers: GIS Modeling in Raster (Wiley, Hoboken 2001)Google Scholar
  27. 31.27.
    D. OʼSullivan, D.J. Unwin: Geographic Information Analysis (Wiley, Hoboken 2003)Google Scholar
  28. 31.28.
    H. Mitasova, L. Mitas: Modeling physical systems. In: Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Modeling, ed. by K.C. Clarke, B.O. Parks, M.P. Crane (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River 2002)Google Scholar
  29. 31.29.
    K. Fedra: Distributed models and embedded GIS: Integration strategies and case studies. In: GIS and Environmental Modeling, ed. by M.F. Goodchild, L.T. Steyaert, B.O. Parks (GIS World, Fort Collins 1996)Google Scholar
  30. 31.30.
    A. Brimicombe: GIS, Environmental Modeling and Engineering, 2nd edn. (CRC, Boca Raton 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.31.
    Ubuntu, Canonical Group Limited, London: (last accessed February 2, 2011)
  32. 31.32.
    R.S. Bivand: Integrating GRASS 5.0 and R: GIS and modern statistics for data analysis, Proc. ScanGISʼ99 – 7th Scand. Res. Conf. Geogr. Inf. Sci., ed. by E. Stubkjær, H.S. Hansen (Aalborg Univ. Press, Aalborg 1999)Google Scholar
  33. 31.33.
    R.S. Bivand, E.J. Pebesma, V. Gómez-Rubio: Applied Spatial Data Analysis with R (Springer, New York 2008)Google Scholar
  34. 31.34.
    Programming Languages for the Java Virtual Machine (is-research, Berlin 2010): (last accessed January 7, 2011)
  35. 31.35.
    A. Karlsson: GIS and Spatial Extension with MySQL, (last accessed February 2, 2011)
  36. 31.36.
    G. Camara: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: Raster data on RDBMS, (last accessed February 2, 2011)
  37. 31.37.
    PostGIS Raster Home Page, Trac Open Source Project: (last accessed February 2, 2011)
  38. 31.38.
    B. Kropla: Beginning MapServer. Open Source GIS Development (Apress, Berkeley 2005)Google Scholar
  39. 31.39.
    C.D. Tomlin: Geographic Information Systems and Cartographic Modeling (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River 1990)Google Scholar
  40. 31.40.
    J. Orwant, J. Hietaniemi, J. Macdonald: Mastering Algorithms with Perl (OʼReilly, Sebastopol 2005)Google Scholar
  41. 31.41.
    J.J. Thomas, K.A. Cook (Eds.): Illuminating the Path: The R&D Agenda for Visual Analytics (National Visualization and Analytics Center, Richland 2005)Google Scholar
  42. 31.42.
    L. Mitas, W.M. Brown, H. Mitasova: Role of dynamic cartography in simulations of landscape processes based on multi-variate fields, Comput. Geosci. 23(4), 437–446 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 31.43.
    H. Mitasova, R.S. Harmon, K. Weaver, N. Lyons, M. Overton: Scientific visualization of landscapes and landforms, special issue on Geospatial Technologies and Geomorphological Mapping, Geomorphol. (2010) in pressGoogle Scholar
  44. 31.44.
    L.G. Tateosian, H. Mitasova, B. Foglemann, B. Harmon, K. Weaver, R.S. Harmon: TanGeoMS: Tangible geospatial modeling system, IEEE Trans. Vis. Comput. Graph. 16(6), 1605–1612 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 31.45.
    F.C. Coelho: Epigrass, (last accessed February 2, 2011)
  46. 31.46.
    M. Jackson: Problem Frames (Addison-Wesley, Reading 2000)Google Scholar
  47. 31.47.
    M. Neteler, H. Mitasova: Open Source GIS: A GRASS GIS Approach, 3rd edn. (Springer, New York 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 31.48.
    T. Kokkonen, T. Ihaksi, A. Jolma, S. Kuikka: Dynamic mapping of nature values to support prioritization of coastal oil combating, Environ. Model. Softw. 25(2), 248–257 (2009)Google Scholar
  49. 31.49.
    T. Nõges, P. Nõges, A. Jolma, J. Kaitaranta: Impacts of Climate Change on Physical Characteristics of Lakes in Europe (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxemburg 2009)Google Scholar
  50. 31.50.
    H. Mitasova, C. Thaxton, J. Hofierka, R. McLaughlin, A. Moore, L. Mitas: Path sampling method for modeling overland water flow, sediment transport and short term terrain evolution in open source GIS, Proc. XVth Int. Conf. Comput. Methods Water Resour., ed. by C.T. Miller, M.W. Farthing, V.G. Gray, G.F. Pinder (Elsevier, Amsterdam 2005)Google Scholar
  51. 31.51.
    O. Kurum, M. Kumar, M.F. Overton, H. Mitasova: Effects of coastal landform change on storm surge along the Hatteras island breach area, Proc. 32nd Int. Conf. Coast. Eng. (Coast. Eng. Res. Counc. Am. Soc. Civ. Eng., Reston 2010)Google Scholar
  52. 31.52.
    J. Kittle, P.B. Duda, D.P. Ames, R. Kinerson: The BASINS watershed analysis system – integrating with open source GIS, Proc. AWRA Spring Spec. Conf. GIS Water Resour. IV (American Water Resources Association, Middleburg 2006)Google Scholar
  53. 31.53.
    A. Voinov, R. Costanza, L. Wainger, R. Boumans, F. Villa, T. Maxwell, H. Voinov: Patuxent landscape model: Integrated ecological economic modeling of a watershed, J. Ecosyst. Model. Softw. 14, 473–491 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 31.54.
    G. Johnson: Spatial Modeling Environment, (last accessed February 2, 2011)
  55. 31.55.
    T. Maxwell, F. Villa, R. Costanza: Spatial Modeling Environment, (last accessed February 2, 2011)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringAalto University School of EngineeringLahtiFinland
  2. 2.Geosciences and Civil & Environmental EngineeringIdaho State UniversityIdaho FallsUSA
  3. 3.Department Center for Biodiversity and ConservationAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  5. 5.GIS and Remote Sensing UnitFondazione Edmund MachS. Michele allʼAdige (TN)Italy
  6. 6.Z-Pulley Inc.LangleyUSA
  7. 7.Linfiniti Consulting CC.Swellendam, Western CapeSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations