Numerical modelling is an investigative tool which is rapidly gaining importance with the advent of bigger and faster digital computers. Any model is an accurately scaled (smaller or larger) representation of a physical phenomenon that can be manipulated independently of the real-life system it imitates. If, by using a model, a design fault in a reservoir can be shown to result in some catastrophe, then it follows that a similar event is likely to occur in the full-size reservoir. Model experiments are thus used to simulate and predict present and future behaviour patterns. Prediction of past behaviour is also often important, for instance, when parameter values must be synthetically reconstructed for times before observations were available. If the model is a scaled-down version of the reservoir (made of wood, steel, papier maché, etc.), then water can be introduced and observed and analogies drawn. Numerical modelling is more abstract: the reservoir is represented, not by a physical entity, but by a system of mathematical equations.
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