FOSS Tools for Geospatial and Agent Based Modelling to Evaluate Climate Change in an Agricultural Watershed

Session Type: 
Dr Alireza Ghaffari, York University
Dr Martin Bunch
Dr Rod MacRae
Joseph Zhao

Land-use changes are typically modeled using geographic information systems because of the spatial nature of the data. But the complexity of coupled human and natural systems and the fourth dimension involved with change over time and time-series data expose some limitations of GIS tools when used on their own. In this paper we present the application of REPAST, a free and open source geospatial Multi-agent Model (a.k.a. Agent-based Model or ABM) to the dynamic simulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) changes in a sub-watershed in Ontario, Canada with predominantly agricultural land use. The combination of Geospatial analysis and use of an Agent Based Model is a new way to solve complex problems involving multiple decision makers on the landscape. The combination of these modeling approaches helps to address the time dimension in geospatial modeling problems. ABM can model dynamic systems, their evolutionary changes and importantly, can predict options for sustainable system configurations. As a part of this research project, open source tools were developed to integrate ABM and GIS environments, specifically with respect to data transport and coupling of GIS and REPAST tools. In this paper we present scenarios to estimate the GHG emissions in an agricultural watershed, and the FOSS tools we both adopted and have been developing to undertake this project.


Speaker Bio: 

I received my PH.D. in Physical Geography from Nottingham University, England (2006).Since January 2007, I have been working as a researcher and post doc fellow with the Department of Earth Space Science, Emergency Management Program, and most recently at the Faculty Environmental Studies. During this period, I have been involved with various research projects funded by GEOIDE and NSERC. In my current position as a post doc fellow at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, I work on a project that aims to evaluate the effects of organic farming on greenhouse gas using a GIS based agent based model.

At the same time, I have been working as a part time instructor for Wilfred Laurier University and Lakehead University (Orillia Campus), teaching various courses including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Arial Photo Interpretation. My research interest is Spatial Analysis/Modeling and GIS implementation in natural and technological hazards.