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ESM 232

Environmental Modeling

Christina (Naomi) Tague

Prerequisites: Math 3ABC or equivalent and ESM 262

Units: 4


Computer Modeling in Environmental Research

Computer-based modeling and simulation are widely used tools in both practical environmental problem solving and in environmental research. Models give us a way to look at the world through a mixture of data and theory. A good model can help us to understand how the world works and how decisions that we make might change the world in ways that are important to us. There are many different types of models, from simple to complex, and models are often tailored to answer a specific questions. This course will give you skills that help you to choose which model, or modeling technique, is right for you - given the task at hand. The course will cover designing a new model and evaluating existing models. We will emphasize best practices, such as sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, that help to design and use models to reliably support environmental problem solving. This is a skills based course and we will use R (a data analysis and programming environment) as our basic platform.

Class will include a mix of lectures and in class hands-on examples, using students’ own computers. I will often provide an R-markdown document for you to go through prior to class so you can learn at your own pace and we will then use class time for the hands-on examples and assignments.

Learning objectives

  • Gain familiarity with different types of models and the situations where you might use them

  • Understand how to choose the ‘right model’ for the job

  • Know how to build simple models including

    • input-output models
    • basic dynamic models
    • matrix models
  • Gain some basic skills that are useful in applying models including

    • parameter sensitivity analysis
    • uncertainty analysis
    • model calibration and evaluation


Course Syllabus: Spring 2024

Course Website 


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