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The purpose of this page is to share updates, developments, and milestones in the USGS Model Catalog project. Point of contact is Leslie Hsu, 

May 20, 2021: Join us at the Integrated Modeling CDI Workshop Session!

Hello USGS Model Catalog Working Group,

For this quarter's working group meeting, please join us at the Community for Data Integration Workshop session Integrated Modeling - what do we need? on Thursday, May 27, 11-12:30pm Eastern. (Meeting link included in email)

You are encouraged to register for the broader CDI Workshop "Designing Data-Intensive Science" May 25-28, 2021, and take advantage of the presentations from USGS leadership, updates on data-related USGS projects, discussions, and interactive activities.

We will also have a presence at the workshop's DataBlast poster and demo sessions.

In the past couple of months, we have been busy revamping both the front and back ends of the catalog. We're excited to continue to improve the content and features with your guidance!

More info about the session below.


Leslie Hsu
Model Catalog Coordinator

Integrated modeling at the USGS - what do we need?

Information about USGS scientific models is spread across a large number of systems and sites. A USGS Model Catalog pilot project aims to make it easier to find, access, integrate, and reuse scientific models. In addition to the technical aspects of collecting and making useful model information available, there are best practices and resources for modelers to document, review, and publish their work.

The purpose of this session is to have a variety of short presentations that highlight existing resources, answer questions, and make connections that will help advance scientific modeling capabilities at the USGS.

Recent activities in the USGS, such as the 2020 Integrated Modeling Workshop and pre-workshop webinar series, covered many water resources and landscape modeling examples. This session will complement that content with additional topics and communities that were not emphasized in that effort.

Agenda in Eastern Time - Thursday, May 27, 2021, 11-12:30p ET

11:00 Introduction

11:10 Coupled modeling of oceanic, atmospheric, and sediment dynamics across spatial scales with COAWST - Christie Hegermiller, USGS

11:25 USGS Model Catalog and Model Catalog Working Group - where are we now? - USGS Model Catalog Team, Brandon Serna, USGS

11:35 Species Habitat Models and Fire Management - Catherine Jarnevich, USGS

11:50 Combining Multiphase Multiphase Groundwater Flow and Slope Stability Models to assess Stratovolcano Flank Collapse - Jessica Ball, USGS

12:05 HayWired: integrated earthquake hazard, engineering, and socioeconomic models - the HayWired Scenario - Anne Wein, USGS

12:20 Discussion and Wrap-Up

March 15, 2021: Quarterly update call scheduled, Legacy models, Integrated Modeling at the CDI Workshop, Training opportunities

Hello Model Catalog friends,

Here's the latest from the Model Catalog Team! The USGS Model Catalog is in the midst of several improvements, thank you to everyone who has contributed information to our team in the past, please keep it coming. Some recent discussions we've had were about species distribution models, mineral resource models, and regional model applications. We look forward to learning even more about the diversity of scientific modeling at the USGS.

Quarterly Model Catalog working group call scheduled for March 24, 4-5pm Eastern

 Calendar invite will be sent to this list (cdi-models)Topics will include:

  • Best practices - Tips for publishing info about scientific models
  • New ways to contribute info to the Model Catalog - transparency is the key
  • New feature input - let our team show you what we're working on
  • The call will be recorded for those that can't make it. See past presentations here.

What is a legacy model?

We want to know what you think about legacy models. We've been asked how we will indicate when models are considered legacy, and to consider that perhaps those models should not be displayed alongside currently-used models. Help us out and take a minute to tell us what you think about legacy models here! (The link goes to a few yes/no answers and a definition of a legacy model.)

CDI Workshop Session - Integrated Modeling, what do we need? 

The upcoming CDI Workshop (May 25-28, 2021, online) is a venue for broad discussions to help current efforts, like the Model Catalog. We have proposed a session on "Integrated modeling at the USGS - what do we need?." The purpose of this session is to have a variety of short presentations that highlight existing resources, answer questions, and make connections that will help advance scientific modeling capabilities at the USGS. Please contact the project coordinator, Leslie (, if there is a topic you would like to see discussed/solved :-), we are planning the agenda now.

Training Opportunities

Foundational data and software skills that may be useful for your scientific modeling work are being offered in a series of, USGS-hosted trainings during 2021. See this page to learn more, and spread the word. Course sign-ups will be advertised as they are scheduled, and anyone on the cdi-all mailing list will be informed.

Thanks for reading!

Leslie Hsu

USGS Model Catalog project coordinator

January 21, 2021, Thursday - Version 1.2 Release; Your Challenges; Trainings and Presentations

Hello Models Working Group mailing list,

Here are the latest updates on the USGS Model Catalog.

  • USGS Leaders Blog post on the Model Catalog
  • Link to the live Model Catalog and Version 1.2 Release (January 2021) Summary
  • Your challenges in publishing scientific models
  • Trainings and Presentations
  • Updated Working Group Wiki Page, Presentations, and Contact email
  • Look ahead

USGS Leaders Blog post on the Model Catalog

This USGS Leaders Blog post from December 7 summarizes the Phase 1 features and invites readers to visit the catalog and send feedback to the project team. The post is from our project steering committee: Kevin T. Gallagher, Tim Quinn, and Geoff Plumlee, of the USGS Executive Leadership Team.  You can read the post here

Link to the live Model Catalog and Version 1.2 Release (January 2021) Summary

The USGS Model Catalog can be accessed at

If you haven't accessed the site yet in 2021, you will see some changes!

  • The Topic Browse page is now functional, and linked to the USGS Thesaurus terms, allowing search on related terms. Our team will need help making sure models are tagged appropriately!
  • Increased mobile device-friendliness: changing the window size to portrait, or viewing on a mobile device, now gives a better experience with a responsive theme.
  • Updates to the Featured Page, including a visualization of what topics are being searched.
  • Visual updates to Individual Model Pages, including content updates: our team is updating the information about the models. As we work our way through the model list, some models have additional information that can be reached with the blue "Metadata in Sciencebase" button. The new content will become more apparent (and standardized) on the catalog interface in the coming year. 
  • Dark mode option (toggle the sun/moon icon in the lower-right corner next to the version number).

There are many more updates happening behind the scenes, based on feedback we have gathered, and we look forward to unveiling those later this year. 

Your challenges in publishing scientific models

We asked about your challenges in publishing scientific models and here are some things we heard:

  • Cleaning up code, checking dependencies
  • Finding reviewers
  • Finding where to start
  • Constantly changing model archive policy
  • What’s a model? (and does anything extra need to be done?)
  • “it is like pushing an elephant down the road”
  • Support for scientists to meet new policy and additional requirements

Thanks so much to those who responded - the questionnaire is still open here if you'd like to suggest a topic we can try to address in this working group.

(By suggesting resources, trainings, etc., speaking of which.....)

Trainings and Presentations

There are many of USGS topic-related modeling communities out there, holding some very informative presentations. These are just a couple of webinars that have come past my inbox, I hope that our community can share more of these types of opportunities in the future. Send me other links to communities and webinars to share (

Updated Working Group Wiki Page, Presentations, and Contact email

New content:

A Look Ahead

Our team has many things we are trying to accomplish this year, including a new back end, improved information display, developer docs, information on public repos, and links to existing USGS systems for streamlining population.

A repeated thanks to anyone who has ever made a suggestion, answered a questionnaire, or met with us to have longer conversations. This feedback is all queued up for the efforts to come, and we are striving to make this as much of a community project as possible.

We are always here to listen so please do not hesitate to get in touch with me personally at or at our new project inbox, 

December 3, 2020, Thursday - USGS Model Catalog Demo, Roadmap, and Interactive Feedback

Hello Models Working Group mailing list,

Our team has been busy, and we'd like to share some updates on the USGS Model Catalog!

Wednesday, December 16, 2-3pm Eastern, we will hold a demo and interactive feedback session.

Some things have on our plate for this phase of catalog development are:

  • Alignment of catalog content population with existing processes and systems (software release,
  • Usability testing​
  • Public, commentable documentation and community updates​
  • Updated information models for single models, frameworks, testbeds, tools​
  • New backend to support technical requirements, API access​
  • Continued population of model descriptions​ in the catalog
  • Vocabularies for categorization and filtering​
  • Continued prioritization and scope definition for USGS models

Please join us for this interactive discussion if you are interested!

It would also be very helpful if you submitted any questions or feedback in advance to this anonymous form.

Leslie Hsu

October 28, 2020, Wednesday - USGS Model Catalog Update

Hello all,

We started the journey of creating a USGS Model Catalog in April 2020 by talking with some of you (thank you!). Recently, the team released a prototype catalog that you can visit at This is our starting line to a marathon and we are now building on this prototype, organizing your input into our plans, expanding content, and streamlining processes. 

Phase 2 is here now. We have a lot to do, and major priorities are defining a stable version of our information model, implementing that model, exploring alignment of our system with other USGS and external systems, categorization and navigation, custom views, making catalog content more accessible by humans and machines, and making our catalog-designing process more transparent to you all.

Attached are some slides (note - don't try to preview the .pptx on the wiki, download to view) we used to describe the catalog and its context at a very high level. 20201015-ModelCatalog-distribute.pptx

I really appreciate each time anyone has provided input or information for our team. It has not all been implemented yet, but that is the plan that we are working on right now.

If you are new to this list, you can see past updates on this page.


Leslie Hsu
Project coordinator

Goals of the USGS Model Catalog: (Just a reminder (smile) )

  1. Improve discovery and awareness of USGS scientific models.
  2. Develop mechanisms to link scientific models to supplementary information, including professional contacts, reference literature, web resources, source code, data, and documented model applications.
  3. Facilitate traceability and reproducibility of model results and model-based (e.g. decision) support tools.
  4. Help inform the community of modelers to share best practices in scientific modeling.

You've received this email because you either signed up to learn more about the USGS Model Catalog, or you've talked to members of the Model Catalog team and we want to keep you up to date. Manage your subscription or tell interested colleagues to join here.

August 17, 2020, Monday - Model categorization results and Defining our Audience

Hi Model Catalog Working Group,

Thanks to anyone who provided the results that are presented in this message - any input you give helps immensely. Read on for today's intriguing model catalog news:

  1. Model categorization results
  2. Recruitment to discuss new categories in a 30 minute meeting this month (help)
  3. Who is your audience, anyway?
  4. Question of the day: combining empirically-derived descriptive models into process-based models (help)
  5. Latest project news

Model categorization results

Last time we proposed a list of scientific model categories and definitions and asked if they made sense to you (deterministic, stochastic, mechanistic, empirical, conceptual).

  1. 50% of respondents said that the 5 terms were sufficient and useful for searching
  2. 50%  of respondents said those terms were not sufficient - either their field used different terms, the terms were not clear, or they couldn't believe I was asking them this ridiculous question.
  3. Several people noted that given the overlapping nature of terms, multiple tags must be allowed.
  4. A few of the additional terms that were suggested: Geospatial, statistical, predictive.
  5. A few terms suggested in "other labels" follow up question: Compiled code, Open source, platform (operating system), Predictive vs. Scenario testing, Machine learning.
  6. One of the free form comments: "Why include "Legacy" if it means "don't use?" why would we include something that wouldn't be used?

We are in the process of incorporating this input into our requirements and roadmap. Although I didn't ask for Mission Area or discipline on the feedback form, I'm interested in how that affected the responses! If you haven't already, you can still log your input on model categorization here and receive my everlasting gratitude.

Recruitment to discuss new categories in a 30 minute meeting this month

This is a request for help! As you can see above, we are getting new input all of the time, and we need to understand if there is broader support to the new input. I am planning one or more 30 minute sessions where participants can (1) individually spend a few minutes reacting to a form with newly proposed category terms, (2) as a group, look at the results and note trends and similarities, (3) meet some other modelers. If you are able to spare the time, please click here to sign up.

Who is your audience, anyway?

Our team was in a funny position at the beginning of this project to "ask USGS modelers what they expect to see in a model catalog." From our many discussions the past few months, we can break down our intended audience and the point of the catalog like this:

  • Model producers - those in the USGS who produce code, publications, or other documentation for scientific models. So what: The catalog will provide a place to highlight and promote their work to a broad audience, and will also highlight and promote best practices for making models discoverable, accessible, and if desired, interoperable.
  • Model users - those who want to discover, understand, and/or use relevant scientific models in their own work. So what: The catalog will provide standardized descriptions that will help users understand which model is best for their use, get started in using the model, and point to other resources (contacts, publications) relevant to the model. In the future, we hope that interaction with the model catalog via code will be possible and popular.
  • Members of integrative projects - this audience overlaps with the previous two categories, but there are a number of ongoing USGS integrative science projects where specific information about models is necessary for evaluating if model coupling is feasible, and researchers are reaching out of their primary domain to understand an integrated modeling system. So what: The catalog will help these integrative projects discover and prioritize the available models or absence of models for their problem.

We developed an initial list of use cases which is evolving.

Question of the day: combining empirically-derived descriptive models into process-based models

We've seen a lot of opinions about the relevance of process-based versus empirical models in our discussions, and one recent comment that has come up is that hopefully the model catalog will help modelers to combine the two. To understand and improve how data from empirically-derived descriptive models (example: lithology/geology) can be fed into process-based models (example: groundwater flow) to advance the science. If this is something you deal with in your work, I would be very grateful if you could write a line or two about it here.

Latest Project News: We've received five responses to our "Advanced" Metadata profile, which is helping us to refine the descriptions we're asking for. We have a list of 41 ways that the word "model" is used in USGS work and I'm sure the list is far, far, from complete.  In the next month we'll be focusing on categorization and compiling useful practices in model documentation we are seeing across the USGS.  The prototype interface has been demoed to key advisors for feedback. All this is to say: we hope we are showing that we're listening to your input so that we can all help improve discovery and use of USGS scientific models in the future!

Not sure who finds this model catalog project exciting enough to make it to the bottom of this message, but if you have, my sincere thanks and congrats. 

Model Catalog project coordinator

July 28, 2020 Tuesday - Categorizing models

Note: Starting today, we're aiming to provide you with simple easy ways for you to give us your feedback in this and following emails. These are optional and not meant to overwhelm with requests.  We are just grateful for any feedback you are able to provide.

Model Types and Labels

One of our most frequently asked questions is "What do you mean by model?" Today we approach that topic by asking which model categories are important to you.  

A recent USGS survey of modelers used the following categories of scientific models from Hall and Day (1977) (See definitions here):

  • Deterministic
  • Stochastic
  • Mechanistic
  • Empirical
  • Conceptual

In addition, we've been told that the following labels on scientific models would be useful and informative

  • Ongoing development
  • Official code repository
  • HPC (High performance computing)
  • HTC (High throughput computing)
  • Operational use
  • Ready to run
  • Legacy

Let us know: Are these lists meaningful to you? Relevant to your discipline? Answer two questions about these lists of terms here.

Results will inform how we design our model catalog, and we will share results in a future email message.

Reaching the USGS modeler community

I'm looking to grow this mailing list so that we can connect with the many people that are doing important modeling work in the USGS. Please forward this message to any USGS colleagues you think would like to be involved, and ask them to join at Thanks for helping us to build the network.

I'm also looking to get a co-lead for this group so that our combined forces will create more useful communications. Please reply to me if you are interested in co-leading this group. Inspirational and aspirational words from a previous CDI breakout discussion:

The USGS uses novel communication methods to share information about new tools, resources, and success stories related to modeling, thus enabling us to leverage modeling knowledge more effectively across the entire Bureau.

And more...

Current status: The team has populated 96 initial models with basic metadata are contacting model authors to vet the information. The team is testing an advanced metadata profile (addressing reusability and interoperability) with a small group. If you are interested in testing the advanced metadata profile, email A prototype interface drawing from the information in the initial model list is under development. 

July 13, 2020 Monday - Where are you finding the models that you are putting in the catalog? (And why isn't my model in it?)

Recap: In the last email (June 22), we gave some updates about project scope and how we're trying to organize all of your feedback with online documentation. In addition, you can read a little bit more about the project team here. All past updates can be seen on this wiki page.  

In the next few updates we'll cover these topics:

  1. Where are you finding the models that you are putting in the catalog? (Today)
  2. So how are you defining "model" anyway?
  3. Who is your audience?
  4. How are we going to be able to search and filter the models?
  5. What fields are you going to collect to describe the models?

Let's get started with #1: Where are you finding the models that you are putting in the catalog? (And why isn't my model in it?)

Starting a USGS-wide search for all models is an overwhelming task. Here are some of the places that the team has looked to do the initial population of the Experimental Model Catalog. (It is called "experimental" because, among other things, it is a holding place for model descriptions before we complete any development on the catalog.) Note that the bulk of the work described has been done by Amanda Liford and Grace Donovan - thank you to them!

If you read the blurb about the current project team, it is largely composed of people from the Science Data Management (SDM) Branch. SDM designs and runs some enterprise systems that hold information about USGS models, such as the Digital Object Identifier Tool and ScienceBase.

  1. We looked at the list of USGS DOIs that were tagged as having something to do with models, and added the relevant scientific models.
  2. ScienceBase was searched for "mathematical model," "numerical model," and "statistical model," and relevant scientific models were added.

Besides looking at the enterprise tools above, we used interviews to get an initial idea of what models are important to USGS modelers. Crowdsourcing information from practicing modelers from different disciplines is a key strategy, since we don't hold all of the information about USGS models ourselves. 

3. We interviewed modelers that we had connections to through the Community for Data Integration to learn about where they store their models, and which ones to include. We asked them for additional contacts to interview. 

4. We got some feedback from people who saw the USGS Leaders Blog post on the model catalog and the request from Kevin Gallagher that modelers reach out to Amanda and Grace if they have a model they'd like to add.

Another angle we are hitting is to research what is currently out there online representing USGS models, and bringing that into our list.

5. We looked at different websites (Mission Area and Science Center home pages) and mined the Tools and Software sections, added the scientific model information, and then reached out to model points of contact to vet the information.

6. We added Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System model repository entries with USGS points of contact.

7. We added models from the Water Resources legacy software page:

There is more left to do! code.json descriptive files are required for repositories on to be public. More information about code.json for USGS can be found on the Distribution of USGS Code webpage. 

8. We are looking at the USGS code.json metadata associated with public repos and mining the text for relevant scientific models.

9. A suggestion was to reach out to all Science Centers to ask them about which models they use/own, in order to do a comprehensive search.

I hope this update gave you an idea of where we have found the initial scientific models in the catalog. If a model you work with hasn't found its way into the catalog list from the methods explained above, and you want to make it more findable, accessible, and reusable, let us know!

Summary: Over the past few months, the team has searched several existing online resources in order to populate the USGS Model Catalog. You can see the initial list of models here that we are aiming to finish populating in July. We know there are many more models out there that users would want to find information about in the catalog.  If you think something is missing, please contact someone on the team - Amanda Liford ( and Grace Donovan ( are leading the model population effort.

Until next time,

Leslie and the Model Catalog Team

July 7, 2020 Tuesday - Who is on the project team and what have we been doing

Today I thought I would talk a bit about who is on the project team and what we've been up to recently.

The core team that has been assigned here is from the Science Analytics and Synthesis Program, and most of us are in the Science Data Management Branch. The SDM Branch designs and maintains several USGS systems such as ScienceBase, ScienceBase Data Release Tool, USGS DOI Tool, Science Data Catalog, Metadata Wizard, and Online Metadata Editor, as well as hosts the Community for Data Integration. 

  • Amanda Liford and Grace Donovan have been working on initial model metadata population, metadata profiles, wireframes, tags, and outreach to model authors to validate initial information. They are initially working in a ScienceBase space to organize content.
  • I (Leslie Hsu) have been coordinating feedback from potential users into model catalog requirements and other documentation. I've also been trying to keep up with various model catalog and model integration projects to understand how they are working. True, I have more experience being an experimentalist than a modeler (experimentalists always think modelers have no concept of reality) but I've always been friends with modelers...
  • Brandon Serna is our data science and software development expert. He listens to our ideas and builds prototypes (amazing).
  • Sky Bristol, who is in a sibling branch called the Innovations and Bioanalytics Laboratory, has been working in an advisory role and as a link to the EarthMAP project team. He is very interested in exploring automated ways of populating, organizing, and maintaining the catalog. He set up this code to gather model info from the web: pymodelcat.
  • Viv Hutchison supervises the project and keeps us on track. 

What we've been up to recently:

  • We're up to version 4 of the requirements doc, as I am learning how to write better user stories, user acceptance tests, workflows, and requirements. Each version brings in additional viewpoints and insights on how people expect to the use the catalog. 
  • There are over 50 models that have been populated in the ScienceBase space. Grace and Amanda are trying to get feedback from the points of contact on the initial basic information. 
  • An early adopters have been kind enough to try to fill out our "advanced" metadata profile, which should provide information that might be useful for reusing or integrating models. Some kind modelers have also offered to try out the advanced metadata profile for models involved in the Delaware River Basin EarthMAP Pilot Project. 
  • We're trying to succinctly describe the catalog to new audiences, while not losing track of any of the input anyone has ever given us. 
  • We're setting up mailing list where people can opt-in or out to get more updates.
  • There remains a long list of people to talk to and incorporate their input. 

June 22, 2020 Monday - an update to our initial test group

We sent the following update to the initial "test group" of modelers and stakeholders who we've contacted in the past. As stated, one of the major next steps is to increase and improve communication around this project. We've received lots of different viewpoints and want to start showing how they've been heard, and how they fit into the future implementation plan. Where there is conflicting feedback, we need to show that too!


You are receiving this email because we've contacted you in the past about the USGS Model Catalog effort and we value your opinion on how the catalog is progressing. You can help us by letting us know if you have suggestions or concerns about what you see, or letting us know if you'd like to help develop the requirements around a specific need.

As a reminder, the USGS Model Catalog is being built to aid discovery of models and their relevant information. It will help to characterize and understand USGS modeling capacity and support new and emerging model integration methods. In these initial months, we have focused on gathering input from people like you who have needs that could be met by this catalog.

A lot has happened in the past month.

  1. A Leaders Blog post was released last Monday describing the Model Catalog effort and support from USGS Leadership:
  2. We've updated the space on our wiki for Model Catalog Documentation, adding information like drafts of catalog requirements, user stories, links to other example catalogs, references, FAQ, team contacts, and project updates. 
  3. We've populated another space with questions and responses that we heard from you during initial discussions and it is open if you are willing to add more input:

The project is being approached in two complementary ways. The first approach is to gather model information manually through communication with model points of contact and present it in a standardized way. The second approach uses code to determine what USGS model information can currently be gathered from public code repositories and other web documentation. At this time, both of these approaches are using ScienceBase to store, validate, and update this information. We continue to refine our plan as we hear from more perspectives.

Our next step is to increase our communications by reaching out to new suggested stakeholders and contacting people individually to update on and invite discussion on issues they have brought up previously.

Before we leave, here are some other modeling-related opportunities you may be interested in

  1. Integrated Modeling Workshop MS Team: includes recordings and questions and answers from the first two webinars (1) Introduction to EarthMAP and Integrated Modeling and (2) Why EarthMAP? Stakeholder Issues in the Delaware River Basin. Schedule of future webinars in preparation for the USGS Integrated Modeling Workshop. (Next one one June 23!)
  2. Recent Presentation: Coupling Hydrologic Models with Data Services in an Interoperable Modeling Framework by Rich McDonald, USGS - from the June 10 CDI Monthly Meeting, slides and recording posted at the meeting wiki page. (If you are a CDI member you can log in to see the recording and slides, contact me if you need access.)


Leslie and the USGS Model Catalog Team

June 16, 2020 Tuesday - the project is announced

The Leaders Blog post about the Model Catalog went up yesterday and was in the Need To Know USGS newsletter. That is a great way to spur some discussion and suggestions on our experimental/pilot catalog. (smile) 

I wanted to set up a project update space so that I could post some informal thoughts about getting this model catalog up, and show our responses to the many different voices that would like to input on how this catalog can become a useful thing.

My plans are to post about the team, our initial steps so far, and what we've been hearing and responding to people. Each post should be pretty short. 

For now, I will point to a space where we've put up some initial discussion points and what we've heard so far. I'm not one who has used GitHub a lot, but some of our team members have in the past, so we are trying it out. Model Catalog issues on the GitHub space. Anyone is welcome to join the conversation there too!

Our small team will try to keep up and weather this initial phase where we need to show something, but the something is far from the planned or expected end goal. That's the idea of being agile, right? If anyone responds to these posts either here on the wiki or to me personally, it should help us refine our communications efforts. 

That's the inaugural post! Leslie

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