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Supercomputing Challenge

Affect of Glacial Melt-Rates

Team: 104


Area of Science: Environmental Science

Interim: Problem Definition:
We would like to measure and display the melt-rate of glaciers in Antarctica and predict how it will affect nearby ecosystems, oceanic water levels, and global weather.
We predict that the rate at which glaciers melt is increasing dramatically and is cooling tropical water that houses fragile ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef. The insertion of excess fresh water will decrease sodium levels and raise oceanic water levels, submerging the reef with deeper, less saliferous waters.
The goal of this project is to bring about a better understanding of what is happening to fragile ecosystems near melting glaciers and how we can prevent the coming devastation. We will simulate both the melting of glaciers and the dying of the Great Barrier Reef in StarLogo.
Problem Solution:
This is not a problem that can be easily solved and may, in actuality, have no solution. The majority of the world would have to drastically change their daily lives for the better, which seems to be somewhat of a problem for most people in today’s society.
Progress to Date:
We have discovered that the approximate annual average melt-rate of glaciers is 331.5 square miles (260 square kilometers), and that the approximate annual average rise of sea level is 0.08 inches (2 millimeters). The average overall temperature has been rising by 0.1 degrees Celsius…coral reefs flourish only in the temperature range of 21-30 degrees Celsius. The current average temperature around the Barrier Reef is about 22-28 degrees Celsius…which seems perfect, for the moment. It has also been found that Antarctic glaciers contribute to 15 % of the rising sea levels. We will use this data to calculate the probability that each agent will be affected, as well as how it will be affected.
We have planned out what we will do on StarLogo, using several different examples in StarLogo to show the different parts of our theory. For instance, one program will contain an ‘ice’ agent, that when hit a specific number of times by a ‘warm water’ agent will turn into another water agent. The ‘water’ agents will warm at different stages using the same process that melts the ‘ice’. This will display the melting of the glaciers. In another simulation, we will have ‘reef’ agents, that when hit with a ‘hot water’ agent a certain number of times, will die. A similar simulation may be set up with a ‘deep’ water agent and its effect on the reef, and these last two may be combined to simulate what will happen in reality, when the water gets both deeper and warmer. We will also have a simulation in which the rising water levels will make the land disappear, leaving less land for land animals to live on and use. We still need to program StarLogo and test our theory.
Expected Results:
We believe that the ‘reef’ agents will die when they are hit by ‘hot water’ agents that are above the temperature at which they can live, and they will also die when hit by ‘deep water’ agents, but they will die the fastest when they are hit by ‘hot deep water’ agents. The glacier that we are simulating with will eventually completely melt. Some land will ultimately be submerged, and fish that live in the reef will die due to climactic changes.

Team Members:

  Jack Ramzel
  Elizabeth Smoake
  Lisa Ortiz

Sponsoring Teacher: Bala Settu

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