HydroSkripts in Hannover

I’m Sarah Collins and I work as a Groundwater Modeller at the British Geological Survey.  In May, thanks to the GERC Early Career Researchers Development Fund, I was given the opportunity to travel to Hannover, Germany, to work at the German Geological Survey (BGR). I was working with experienced researchers Drs Georg Houben and Vincent Post and fellow early career researcher Dr Carlos Morel Guevara on an idea that Vincent has had for a while.
The Neues Rathaus 'New Town Hall' in Hannover

Our plan was to develop a library of analytical solutions to groundwater flow and transport processes – named HydroSkripts – coded up in the programming language Python. But why would anyone be interested in analytical solutions, when we have such sophisticated, powerful numerical modelling software? I hear you ask. (Or perhaps not, depending on your knowledge of groundwater modelling… But it is a reasonable question.) Modellers often end up producing their own model codes for new tasks, as it affords a degree of freedom that commercial software cannot provide. And what do I do every time I build a new numerical model? I search through my line manager’s collection of text books looking for analytical solutions to benchmark my model against.

This is not the only use of analytical models; they also provide a quick estimate to questions such as How will abstraction at this borehole affect water levels?, particularly to those without the resources or expertise to build a numerical model. Our goal was to bring these analytical models from numerous different sources together and to make them as quick and easy to access and use as possible. The key to our HydroSkripts library will be its search feature, which will allow users to look up the appropriate model based on a description of the problem, without having to trawl through those text books and papers!

In Hannover, we made a great start to the work. We have since gained a fifth collaborator, Dr Dylan Irvine of Flinders University, and work continues through our git account – a version control system that allows coders to work seamlessly in parallel. Our aim is to finish coding the identified solutions, write a short paper to publicise the work and then release the code on a public git, so that researchers and students all over the world can use the tool and add to it. Keep an eye out for HydroSkripts!    

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