ISEM Global Conference 2016

The International Society for Ecological Modeling is holding its annual meeting May 8-12 at Towson University (MD). Among the compelling symposia on the agenda, two may be of particular interest to our clients and colleagues:

For those interested in presenting, we strongly encourage you to submit an abstract. These will be accepted until October 16.

We are looking forward to fruitful interactions with and among participants!



Gulf wide Application of the SLAMM Model

While the Gulf-wide application of SLAMM project is still having some final touches added, we do have an update for those interested in this model application. Jonathan Clough, WPC president, gave a  Lunch Webinar to the Gulf Coast Prairie Land Conservation Cooperative (the project funder) in February and the webinar can be viewed on YouTube.




Our recent webinar “Application of SLAMM to Connecticut and New York” is now online!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to attend our webinar on February 25th. The presentation focused on interpreting SLAMM results, both from the deterministic and uncertainty model outputs.

A recording of the presentation and the slides are available for download here.We are grateful to the EBM Tools Network and OpenChannels for facilitating and archiving it!


Infrastructure and climate change: executive order and report, man-made and natural.

Working in the business of climate change adaptation, interesting news comes across our desks all the time. A few of the latest are a recent executive order and a report authored by our colleague, Patty Glick of the National Wildlife Federation.

On January 30, 2015 President Obama issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to account for rising seas in their investments. The order requires that Federally funded buildings, roads and other infrastructure are constructed to better withstand the impacts of flooding.  A fact sheet pertaining to the order can be found here:

Some notable excepts from the fact sheet:

“More than 50 percent of Americans live in coastal counties, where key infrastructure and evacuation routes are increasingly vulnerable to impacts like higher sea levels, storm surges, and flooding. And according to the National Climate Assessment, more than $1 trillion of property and structures in the U.S. are at risk of inundation from sea level rise of two feet above current sea level – an elevation that could be reached as early as 2050. That further jeopardizes the critical infrastructure Americans depend on every day for housing, transportation, energy, water supply, and more.

The new standard announced today gives agencies the flexibility to select one of three approaches for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area they use in siting, design, and construction.  They can:

  • Use data and methods informed by best-available, actionable climate science;
  • Build two feet above the 100-year (1%-annual-chance) flood elevation for standard projects, and three feet above for critical buildings like hospitals and evacuation centers; or
  • Build to the 500-year (0.2%-annual-chance) flood elevation.”

It’s almost as if the  Obama Administration is responding  to a report by the National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with Allied World and Earth Economics, titled “Natural Defenses from Hurricanes and Floods: Protecting America’s Communities and Ecosystems in an Era of Extreme Weather” ( – Glick et al, 2014). “This report asks whether federal, state, and local officials are paying enough attention to the growing threats of floods and hurricanes across the country and whether they are using the policy tools at their disposal to protect people and property endangered by these potentially catastrophic natural hazards.”

While the Obama administration addresses the need for adaptation through more resilient infrastructure development, changes in man-made infrastructure will need to be adopted along with approaches that “protect and restore natural infrastructure such as wetlands, dunes, riparian zones, living shorelines, and natural open space” (Glick et al., 2014) in order to create a sustainable coastline.


Update and upcoming webinar

After an extremely long period of inactivity, I am glad to be updating the Warren Pinnacle blog! It has been way too long and can only be blamed on being too busy with interesting projects to keep the blog moving forward. In 2014 we applied SLAMM to several parts of the US coast:

  • We modeled the coast of New York for the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA), complete with uncertainty analysis.
  • As a continuation of the NYSERDA work we applied SLAMM to the coast of Connecticut, funded by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC). This work also included a full analysis of input data uncertainty.

The NYSERDA and NEIWPCC projects together create a seamless application of SLAMM to the Long Island Sound at a 5 meter resolution. Results will be presented through the EBM Tools Network webinar series on Wednesday, February 25, 2 pm EST/11 am PST/7 pm GMT. Click here for more info and to register.

  • The Gulf Coast Prairie Land Conservation Cooperative (GCPLCC) funded a study to create a seamless application of SLAMM to the Gulf of Mexico Coast from Brownsville, TX to the Florida Keys. Several areas of the gulf had been modeled previously, but were not comparable due to differing sea-level rise scenarios and accretion rates, etc. In this study the whole coast has now been simulated with dynamic accretion rates and consistent SLR scenarios.

The reports  for these projects are available at the links below:



GCPLCC: In the final stages of editing and will be available soon.

Ecosystem-Based Management Tools May Fail…

without changes to development and financing, according to a new paper in BioScience.

Our colleagues at the EBM Tools Network are the authors of this paper, which stresses the importance of consistent, long-term funding.

The full text of the article is available here:

Did you realize that the amount of funding available to EBM tool developers is less than 2% of that invested in new commercial software efforts?

The main benefit of EBM tools is their ability to help solve real-world problems and aid in decision making. Because many software developers working in EBM tool development and application (including WPC) believe in these tools remaining fee-free and open-source, finances for development come primarily from research grants and as add-ons to model application contracts.  A consequence of this is that users of these tools have commonly mentioned that models were difficult to apply due to poor documentation and maintenance and often contained software bugs. Logically,  developers attribute the lack of higher-quality software to the lack of  sufficient long-term funding.  An additional challenge for developers and researchers is estimating the effort required when proposing model development contracts.

SLAMM meets two of the three criteria the article sets forth for financially sustainable tools- where it falls short is having an “expected source of funding for the foreseeable future”. Our ideas for improving SLAMM extend beyond the funding sources available for model development. We understand our clients are not always in the position to fund long-term development of the model and feel the model in its current form remains a useful tool for managers and policymakers. However, we continue to actively seek to improve the model and find the article by Curtice and coworkers a useful tool in itself to educate users, developers, and funders.

Uncertainty Analysis Presentation

On May 9th, Marco Propato and Jonathan Clough presented a webinar demonstrating the Uncertainty Analysis capabilities of the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) through the EBM Tools Network. We are very grateful to the EBM Tools Network for hosting this event, as it allowed us to reach out to many current and potential SLAMM users and provide an update on the newest capabilities built into the model.

A summary of the presentation is provided below, along with a link to the webinar for those who were unable to attend …or who liked it so much you want to watch it again!

Predictive models are always affected by uncertainties.  There is not one “right” prediction, rather there is a distribution of possible future results. The recent integration of a stochastic uncertainty analysis module to the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) allows users to examine wetland coverage results as distributions and can improve the decision making process. This addition to the SLAMM interface makes it possible to examine the effects of uncertainty and data errors in model parameters, including sea level rise, uplift/subsidence, tide ranges, and accretion and erosion rates, as well as feedbacks between sea level rise and accretion.  Uncertainty in the elevation data layer can be assessed while considering issues such as the spatial-autocorellation of measurement errors. Results account for uncertainties in input parameters and driving variables, provide a range of possible outcomes and their likelihood, and allow model users to evaluate the robustness of deterministic results. A stand-alone program, the SLAMM  Uncertainty Viewer, was developed with funding from Ducks Unlimited in order to simplify uncertainty output for end users, analysts, and decision makers. The SLAMM Uncertainty Viewer provides a map-based interface that analyzes future wetland-coverage probabilities for a user-defined region. Graphical outputs from the viewer provide quantitative results that can assist in planning and decision-making.

Welcome to the Warren Pinnacle Blog

In order to stay in touch with our clients and collaborators, WPC is joining the blogosphere!

Our plan is to use this space to keep interested parties up-to-date on our company and projects, advances in model development of SLAMM and AQUATOX, and to share interesting papers on climate change, accelerated sea-level rise, and related topics.

We look forward to sharing this new aspect of our company with you and reading your comments.

–  Jonathan, Amy, and Marco