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Computer Simulation Forecasts Chesapeake Bay's Future

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A computer simulation program developed at the University of Virginia will help scientists forecast how human behavior and climate will affect the Chesapeake Bay's future.
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A computer simulation program developed at the University of Virginia will help scientists forecast how human behavior and climate will affect the Chesapeake Bay's future.

Virginia scientists and engineers would like to forecast the environmental and economic effects of possible changes to agriculture, commerce and industry over the next twenty years for the Chesapeake Bay, and IBM says it's willing to help.

The company oversees a network of volunteers in 80 countries around the world, people who lend their computers down time for use in solving community problems. Using about 2 million of those PCs, the University of Virginia hopes to reach conclusions in a single year.

"What we're trying to do is determine via the simulation model which practices individual persons can adopt that will help reduce the flow of nutrients to the Bay, so that we can not only restore the Bay, but sustain it for future generations," says Gerald Learmonth, a systems engineering professor at UVA.

Learmonth says the findings could guide policymakers and the public, assuring that we do the most effective things in the years to come. He also says this could help about 400 other waterways.

The Computing for Sustainable Water Project relies on a mathematical model that simulates the actions of the 16.7 million people living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. UVA hopes many of them will join the World Community Grid by downloading a free app to their personal computers. IBM says calculations are done automatically when systems are not in use. The process requires no time from volunteers, resists viruses, uses little additional energy, and does not affect computer speeds.

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