Modeling, simulating and visualizing the evolution of physical landscapes Essay

Research Topic

Modeling, simulating and visualizing the evolution of physical landscapes

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Research Objectives

ü    To construct a framework for modeling, simulating, and visualizing the evolution of physical landscapes

ü    To make use of the various landscape models, landscape visualization, simulation processes, and other information sources that can be used to construct a framework for landscape visualizations

Rationale

Models for the visualization of physical landscapes play an important role in the analysis of the various geographical locations around the globe.

Foremost of the reasons for constructing a framework for modeling and visualizing the evolution of physical landscapes is because such can be used to promote an in depth understanding of a physical change of a specific community. Such can also be used to aid historians and sociologist in analyzing the various occurrences in the society over time.

Furthermore, landscape planners such as engineers and architects, along with policy makers can make use of such models for visualizing the evolution of landscape when they make decisions about the land use and development of a physical area. They can use the models to determine the developments of an area and relate their analysis to their decisions about the future formation of such.

Review of Related Literature

Many studies have been made regarding the processes involved in modeling, simulating and visualizing a landscape. Though the previous studies made use of varying frameworks and factors, such can be used as a basis for constructing a unified framework which can be used to continuously monitor the various changes that a physical landscape undergoes over a period of time.

Among the more recent studies that involved visualization of landscapes was the Visulands project. The said project aims to present 3D models of landscapes. As such, it made use of some of the computer software programs that incorporated GIS landform data. However, aside from that, the researchers of the project realized that there was a need to offer written information about the visualizations. As such, the project involved an analysis of public preferences, compared and contrasted with the objectives of the land manager in regards to future land use. Thus, Visuland was able to present a visualization of the landscape with an end-user interactive function that allows the user to navigate through the visualized landscape from various view points. The user can also manipulate the visualized image depending on their chosen input of the amount (increased-decreased) of various factors that may affect the formation of the landscapes in the future.

Another relevant study which tackled landscape visualization was the Yorkshire Dales Study. Its aim was to create future landscape scenarios for the Yorkshire Dales National Park so as to generate understanding and arouse awareness of the future potentialities of the said landscape. Instead of using computer packages that generated 3D models, this study made use of sketches so as to illustrate the future scenarios.

Among the studies that regarded the need for analyzing the factors that promote change is the study being conducted by the University of East Anglia, entitled ‘Visualising Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes’. The study wanted to assess the effects of current or proposed farm management on the biodiversity of the agricultural landscape. As such, instead of just formulating sketches or generating GIS images of landscape, the researchers conducted an ecological survey across the study area in order to establish the state of the present environment. They interviewed the local farmers and members of stakeholder organizations. Through the said methods of consultation, the researchers were able to define the possible future scenarios of development as reflected by the plans of the entities involved in the subject area.

In accordance with the study of the University of East Anglia, another research also examined the various factors that change a landscape. In the pilot study of the University of Sheffield entitled “Modeling Sustainable Landscapes for the Peak District,” both the scenario construction methods and the visualization methods were used to generate future landscapes. As such, the study analyzed the various components that may affect the future of a landscape. Proposed methods to assess such factors involved interviews, workshops, the Delphi technique, and back casting. However, the study also noted that visualization methods should be used. Among the proposed techniques included the use of non-GIS based Software, GIS-based Software, and computer programs that allow Photographic Manipulation.

Proposed Framework Construction

To be able to construct a framework that shows the processes by which a variety of simulations, models and information sources such as GIS will be used so as generate visualizations of the evolution of a landscape over time, both scenario construction methods along with visualization techniques should be applied.

Modeling, simulating and visualization of evolution will involve not just an analysis of the future landscape. Instead, it should involve the assessment of the landscape from the past to the present. However, it should be noted that continuous monitoring of the present scenario is important so as to be able to observe the changes that takes place on the landscape overtime.

As such, the framework that this research promotes involves the incorporation of the study of the University of Sheffield.  Instead of just using photos or sketches that follow patterns in the evolution of a landscape, the framework of this research promotes an analysis of the various factors that prompt such changes to occur (see Figure on page 6).

As such, note that scenario construction methods will be used to provide a process for modeling the past and present state of a landscape. This will be done in coordination with the GIS generated images which will be used to develop the present models of the physical landscapes.

After the process of constructing the models of the landscapes, the set of models will then be used for the construction of visualizations that represent the entire evolutionary process of the landscape. Note that the use of both scenario construction methods and visualization techniques in generating visualizations for the evolution of a physical landscape was not made merely to create a whole picture of the evolutionary cycle. Instead, such framework will also allow the models and the visualizations to provide a variety of viewpoints suitable for a wide range of users as well. These simulations of the models and visualizations presented at various points will be beneficial for a variety of users who will need an understanding of the evolutionary cycle for a variety of purposes.

The framework that is generated from the combination of visualization techniques and scenario construction or modeling methods is one that will allow user interaction. Users can generate the visualization depending on their input of the factors that promote change over the subject area. Through the use of simulating and visualization techniques such as Photographic Sampling of the Actual Area and the use of Computer Generated Visualizations using GIS-based Software, the framework can also provide its users with either traditional two-dimensional maps and/or fully interactive and immersive three dimensional images.

THE FRAMEWORK

References

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