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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N027736/1
Title: Models in the Cloud: Generative Software Frameworks to Support the Execution of Environmental Models in the Cloud
Principal Investigator: Blair, Professor G
Other Investigators:
Beven, Professor K Young, Dr PJ Whittle, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
JBA Trust National Centre for Atmospheric Research NERC Grouped
Department: Computing & Communications
Organisation: Lancaster University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2016 Ends: 31 December 2019 Value (£): 849,785
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Networks & Distributed Systems Software Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
15 Mar 2016 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel - Mar 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Cloud computing is one of the most important technological developments of the last few years, with the technology having a major and transformative impact on many areas of society and the economy. For example, cloud computing underpins developments in smart cities, ecommerce and eGovernment and also provides the storage and computational capabilities that underpin data science (cf. big data).

The software support offered by cloud computing is however in its infancy and is tailored towards particular styles of application. This is particularly true with respect to computation in the cloud, where the programming approach offered by the computational framework MapReduce dominates and yet MapReduce assumes a particular style of programming where potentially massive data sets are analysed by a map() operation before results are collated through an associated reduce() operation. This is powerful but very limited.

In parallel, researchers are also interested in realising the benefits of cloud computing in many other areas of application. This project focuses on the support offered by cloud computing to Environmental Science and, in particular, to the execution of potentially complex environmental models in the cloud. This is an area of huge significance, with environmental modelling being the key tool to evaluate uncertainty, risk assessment, and mitigation strategies around flood/ drought, food security and the impact of climate change (with major consequences for the economy and for society). We particularly focus on the principles and techniques in the key areas of Platform as a Service (or PaaS), effectively the middleware for cloud computing. The central insight is that services at the PaaS level need to be more carefully tailored to the needs of key application domains, including but not limited to support for the execution of complex environmental models. We advocate a novel approach based on a combination of model-driven engineering coupled with software frameworks and argue that this enables a paradigm shift in terms of the flexible and tailored support offered by cloud computing for given application domains.

Key beneficiaries of this work include the computer science communities working on model-driven engineering and cloud computing, researchers from environmental modelling in areas ranging from climate change modellers to flood prediction, and also key stakeholders related to environmental management and we include an exciting range of partner institutions from this area to maximise the impact of this work.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk