Parallelization and optimization of spatial analysis for large scale environmental model data assembly

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Journal Article
Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 2012, 89 pp. 94 - 99
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Spatial-temporal modelling of environmental systems such as agriculture, forestry, and water resources requires high resolution input data. Assembling and summarizing this data in the appropriate format for model input often requires a series of spatial analyses which can be extremely time-consuming, especially when many large data sets are involved. In this paper we investigated the ability of high-performance computing techniques to improve the efficiency of spatial analysis for model data assembly. We implemented an array-based algorithm to calculate summary statistics for long time-series daily grid climate data sets for 11,575 climate-soil zones across the Australian wheat-growing regions for input into a crop simulation model. We developed a zonal statistics algorithm using Python's Numpy module then parallelized it and processed it using a shared memory, multi-processor system. We assessed algorithm performance with a varying number of CPU cores, and assessed the influence of load balancing on the efficiency of parallel processing. Compared with traditional desktop GIS software, the serial and parallel (32 cores) implementation achieved about 180 and 1440 times speed-up, respectively. We also found that the most efficient computation occurred when not all of the available CPU cores were used, and the chunk size of jobs also had an important influence on computing efficiency. The algorithm and the parallel processing scheme provides a useful approach to address computing challenges posed by spatial analysis of numerous large data sets for large scale environmental modelling. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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