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A simulated river runs through it


IBM and the Nature Conservancy will use computers to model the behavior of river basins, the better to make decisions on conserving both the environment and water resources.

“Informed, environmentally sound management of the world’s freshwater systems is a growing challenge for society, and if this challenge is left unaddressed, it could have a lasting impact on future generations,” said Nicholas M. Donofrio, IBM executive vice president, innovation and technology.

Every day thousands of decisions affect the health and quality of rivers and the people, wildlife and economies that depend upon them. The partnership between IBM and the Nature Conservancy will help answer important questions such as: What impact will development have on water quality for a village downstream? Will clear-cutting a forest in the upper part of a watershed imperil fish stocks that local people depend on for food?

The proposed system will provide access to wide-ranging data on climate, rainfall, land cover, vegetation and biodiversity. It will also help researchers better understand how policy decisions affect water quality and ecosystem services. The partnership will create simulation, three-dimensional visualization, and scenario-forecasting tools.

Initially the project will take on the Paraguay-Paraná river system in Brazil. Over the next two years, the partnership hopes to implement similar systems for the Yangtze River in China and the Mississippi River in the US.


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