Scientists use sophisticated numerical models to study ocean circulation and other physical systems, but the complex nature of such simulation software generally make them inaccessible to non-expert users. In principle, however, numerical models represent an ideal teaching tool, allowing users to model the response of a complex system to changing conditions. We have designed an interactive simulation program that allows a casual user to control the forcing conditions applied to a numerical ocean circulation model using a graphical user interface, and to observe the results in real-time. This program is implemented using the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) applied to the Chesapeake Bay. Portions of ROMS were modified to facilitate user interaction, and the user interface and visualization capabilities represent new software development. The result is an interactive simulation of the Chesapeake Bay environment that allows a user to control wind speed and direction along with the rate of flow from the rivers that feed the bay. The simulation provides a variety of visualizations of the response of the system, including water height, velocity, and salinity across horizontal and vertical planes. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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