Modelling Dynamic Processes

One of the interesting links I found on Bradley Cantrell’s site showed a very cool project being developed by the UC Berkeley to simulate river dynamics, which have notoriously been difficult to replicate.

Via Science Daily: “Christian Braudrick, William Dietrich and their colleagues are the first to build a scaled-down meandering stream in the lab that successfully meanders without straigtening out or turning into braided streams. The substrate is composed of sand to represent real-life gravel; white light-weight plastic for sand, and alfalfa sprouts for deep-rooting vegetation.”


:: image via Science Daily

The new information gleaned from this research will allow researchers “…to investigate the role of various factors in determining the shape and migration rate of streams and how variables associated with climate change and land use might be expected to affect river form.”

While the sophistication of digital modeling continues to amaze, I find it very interesting that certain physical processes need analog physical models in order to capture the myriad variables in accurate ways. As we strive for more ways to plan for unpredictable circumstances, we may find a resurgence of the physical model, along with our digital tools, as new/old ways of understanding complex dynamic processes.

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