News Column

Microsoft Research Releases Environment Simulation Software

April 29, 2014

Kamau Mbote

Microsoft Research and United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) have released a software dubbed Madingley that could help scientists and policy makers answer key environmental questions.

The first computer model software replicates how all organisms interact on a global scale and how climate change is likely to affect life on earth.

Madingley will thus be able to predict the likely effects of human actions on the natural world could prove vital the maintenance of the goods and services it provides as well as a long-term, predictive and truly global insight previously lacking in other models.

Madingley can be applied in a wide range of ecosystems including marine or terrestrial with the scope ranging from local to global depending on the use.

According to UNEP through its executive director Achim Steiner the technology will help stem dangerous behavior to the environment early enough before their adverse effects can be witnessed.

"Anthropogenic activities are causing widespread degradation of ecosystems Worldwide, threatening the ecosystem services upon all life depends. Madingley is an exciting new technology which offers the scientific community and world leaders a vital tool to predict how unsustainable development pathways would affect the natural world." He said.

Steiner adds that the model is the first to couple all of the key biological processes and ecological theory that underpin the life cycle and behavior of living organisms, from energy acquisition, to feeding metabolism, reproduction, dispersal and earth.

Madingley will also be effective in improving understanding of the causes and impacts he added.

According to the head of computational ecology and environmental science group Drew Purves the team started by simulating the physical Earth with continents, oceans and a global climate, before inserting digital organisms.

As the simulations progress over time, scientists will be able to observe and assess how different types of organisms interact with environmental niches and, crucially, how they might be impacted by a changing environment.

"Our model is a first working version which will hopefully encourage other scientists to become involved in developing this, or analogous, global models of life," he said.

Scientists using the Madingley Model will now be able to answer crucial questions previously deemed unanswerable. They will, for example, be able to show what will happen to an ecosystem if bees become extinct and they will be able to show decision makers how our world will look if action is not taken to safeguard our planet's future.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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