Climate, topography and tectonic uplift play a major role in landform development. One piece of land subjected to these individual forces is likely to change over geological time. It is this argument that has led to the development of various software that compresses the thousands and millions of years that landforms develop. One particular software is Web-based interactive landform simulation model, which, through a combination of complex mathematical models and equations, is able to simulate the development of landforms based on the factors that the user inputs. Therefore, the user is able to observe the development and evolution of various landforms by changing the rock erodibility, rainfall intensity and/or tectonic uplift parameters interactively.
Results and explanation.
In this case, the scenario used for the simulation was based on the following: constant erodibility, constant climate, and no tectonic uplift.
Default cell sizes: X=60, Y=100(the minimum cell sizes)
Number of iterations=100000
Simulation 1
X=100, Y=200
Number of iterations=100000
Simulation 2
X=100, Y=200
Number of iterations=1000000
Simulation 3
X=100, Y=110
Number of iterations=100000
Simulation 4
X=60, Y=149
Number of iterations=592500
For all the scenarios above, the slope was 0.01 while the soil profile is as below
The land elevation plays a major role in landform development. On all the above figures, there is an exponential change in the land on the lower parts (indicated by the dendritic part at the lower side).It is no surprise because there is the gravitational force which tends to transport all the eroded materials downslope
On the other hand, altering the number of iterations and cell sizes interchangeably shows that maximum development of landforms occurs when the three factors are at the maximum set limit. In this, significant development on the lower parts of the land are observed when the cell sizes are 100 and 200 while the number of iterations is 1000000.All this can be observed on the difference between simulations 1 and 2.On an important note, the number of the cells determine the areas that contribute the amount for water for landform development (Brown, Bull, & Pendlebury, 1997). The program basically ensures that water from higher cells drain into lower cells consequently leading to an increase in the amount of erosion that occurs to higher cells but more deposit occurs downslope. Therefore, an increase in the number of cell sizes coupled with an increase in the number of iterations leads to more landform development.
Analysis and discussion
The analysis of landform evolution has been simplified by the wilsim simulation model. According to the above findings, the increase in the land area, coupled with an increase in the number of years that the land is subjected to precipitation and tectonic forces produces a tremendous amount of development. In the above models, the land that is subjected to the maximum number of iterations and the number of cell sizes has the major change in the land area. In this, the model produces a snapshot of the landform development after a number of iterations indicating the various development phases (Luo, Stravers, & Duffin, 2005).
Considering the re-run simulation where the x andy cell sizes are 60 and 100 respectively, and simulation one where the cell sizes are x=100, y=200, there is an observable change in proximity of the development of various landforms. The re-run shows that the landforms develop close to each other while simulation 1 shows that the landforms do not develop so close to each other. Comparison of simulation 2 and simulation 3 where the number of iterations is 100000 and 1000000 respectively, the density of landform development in the latter is more significant than the former. The former case indicates the development of a more dendritic landform than the latter.
The simulation model can furthermore be described to base its landform development on the run duration and surface complexity. A more complex land surface is as a result of run duration and consequently, a more complex land surface results in less run duration. All this is integrated into the model.
On the downside of the simulation, the software is not specific to the type of landform developed. There are various types of landform that can develop over centuries and with no feature to dictate this, the program seems to be too general. On a general limitation of the software, the inability to run on non-java enabled computers limits its use.Therefore, there should be an improvement on the software graphics to enable the user to observe the evolution of different types of landform. On the other hand, the software should be improvised in such a way that it becomes compatible with non-java enabled computers.
The wilsim landform development model is an important tool to students, but especially to geologists. The model enables the user to observe millions of year’s landform development in a short duration. Furthermore, by altering the various parameters provided, the user is able to observe how various factors can interact to shape the earth. The tool is, therefore, an important l for studies and fieldwork.
Brown, G., Bull, J., & Pendlebury, M. (1997). Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education. london.
Luo, W., Stravers, j. A., & Duffin, k. L. (2005). Lessons Learned from Using a Web-based Interactive Landform Simulation Model (WILSIM) in a General Education Physical Geography Course. Journal of Geoscience Education.