Press Room

Puget Sound Integrated Modeling Framework Project Announcement

Seattle, WA — Dec 13 2022

(Partner Release)

(Tacoma, Wash. – December 14, 2022) The UW Tacoma’s Puget Sound Institute (PSI) announces a multi-year, $4.8M effort to enable better management actions through an integrated model of the Puget Sound ecosystem that powerfully combines five smaller, more specific models of respective  ecosystem components.

Funded in part by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Puget Sound Integrated Modeling Framework (PSIMF) will pull together complementary models from partners including UW’s Salish Sea Modeling Center, NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC), the EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), Long Live the Kings (LLTK), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia.

“The Pacific Northwest is home to cutting-edge terrestrial, estuarine, and marine ecosystem models that each have their own use in supporting specific decisions and advancing understanding,” said Dr. Tessa Francis, lead ecosystem ecologist with UW Tacoma’s PSI and Principal Investigator on the project. “So far, we haven’t been able to link these models together  to provide a unified platform with insights into the interconnected nature of our ecosystems.” 

Francis likened the existing models to separate puzzle pieces that, when put together along with a model of the human system, will provide a cohesive picture of the entire ecosystem. Human populations and stressors originating from land development and climate change threaten freshwater, nearshore, and estuarine ecosystems. The connections between these areas are poorly understood, and these systems should not be studied one-by-one. Comprehensive data and analyses are needed to make informed conservation, restoration, and development decisions.

“This project links together land cover, freshwater, marine condition, and food web models, which will greatly benefit the many organizations working to ensure the future of the Puget Sound ecosystem,” said Scott Redman, Science and Evaluation program director at the Puget Sound Partnership. “We look forward to partners using the integrated model to inform their decisions about growth management, shoreline protection, pollution control, and species recovery.”

The foundational models to be incorporated into the project include:

  • VELMA ecohydrological watershed model developed by EPA-ORD
  • Salish Sea Model from the Salish Sea Modeling Center and PNNL
  • Atlantis ecosystem model, developed by CSIRO and implemented by LLTK and NOAA’s NWFSC
  • High resolution land cover change model from PSI
  • Qualitative socio-ecological model developed by NOAA’s NWFSC

Support of VELMA and the Salish Sea Model by EPA’s Puget Sound Geographic Program has enabled their individual development to this point, making them ready for use in a coupled framework. “The integration of these models will create new decision-making tools that positively impact the future of our region,” said Dr. Gabe Miller, Technology Director on behalf of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “This project reflects the foundation’s long-standing commitment to the Pacific Northwest and leveraging data to solve environmental challenges.”

Once completed, the project’s many linked models will create a fuller picture of the Puget Sound ecosystem, clarifying the relationships between climate, human populations, and land use. This new tool will support regional planning and decision-making, allowing smarter resource management that benefits diverse residents from kelp and fish to orcas and humans.
More information about the Puget Sound Integrated Modeling Framework:

For journalists: download photos, visualizations, video b-roll

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About UW Tacoma

Established in 1990, UW Tacoma is one of three campuses that make up the University of Washington. Offering 50 undergraduate and 15 graduate degree programs, with 4,800 current students and 30,000 alumni, UW Tacoma is an urban-serving campus that emphasizes access and use-inspired research.

About Puget Sound Institute

The UW Puget Sound Institute (PSI) provides analysis, research and communication to inform and connect the science of ecosystem protection. As an independent academic organization within the University of Washington Tacoma, we bring together leading authorities from a diversity of disciplines to conduct commissioned critical reviews and evaluations, providing credible, consensus-based information to policymakers, government agencies and other interested groups.

About the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation 

Founded in 1988 by philanthropists Jody Allen and the late Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation invests in communities across the Pacific Northwest to enhance the human experience of arts & culture, center under-served populations, and mobilize young people to make impact. In addition, the foundation supports a global portfolio of nonprofit partners working across science and technology solutions to protect wildlife, preserve ocean health, and create lasting change. The foundation also funds the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, which works to advance cutting-edge research in all areas of bioscience. 



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