SBMAC Awards Kepler Prize

Kepler Prize winning article addressed scenarios for land cover in Brazil

The study was supported by the Euler cluster, CeMEAI's supercomputer

The article "Disclosing contrasting scenarios for future land cover in Brazil: Results from a high-resolution spatiotemporal model", which deals with predictive models for future land cover in Brazil and was published by the journal Science of The Total Environment, was chosen by the Brazilian Society of Applied and Computational Mathematics (SBMAC) as the winner of the second edition of the Johannes Kepler Prize. The award, instituted in 2020, aims to promote and stimulate national scientific production of excellence in Applied Mathematics with multidisciplinary characteristics.

The study, developed by Arthur Nicolaus Fendrich (ESALQ/USP, Brazil), Alberto Barretto (ESALQ/USP, Brazil), Vinícius Guidotti de Faria (Imaflora, Brazil), Fernanda de Bastiani (UFPE, Brazil), Karis Tenneson (SIG-GIS, USA), Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto (Imaflora, Brazil) and Gerd Sparovek (ESALQ/USP, Brazil), was motivated by the need to obtain information on the dynamics of changes in land cover, in order to improve practical conservation actions.

According to the article, the political scenario in Brazil, which since 2018 has been experiencing one of the worst economic recessions in history, has caused changes in land cover patterns. With invasive development plans, according to the study, environmental conservation is threatened and the potential effects of this exploitation are still unknown. Thus, in this work, the authors sought to build a model that would assess the consequences of these actions on land cover in near future.

For the development of the work, the authors used the Euler cluster, a supercomputer of the Center for Mathematical Sciences Applied to Industry (CeMEAI), funded by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP). According to Arthur Fendrich, first author of the article, the equipment was critical for the production carried out.

"Without a doubt, the Euler cluster was fundamental for the elaboration of the work. All the processes involved in the article demanded a very large computation time and also a very significant amount of storage. Therefore, it was and still is very important to be able to count on a infrastructure as advanced, complex, stable and well-managed as Euler. I would even like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in designing, managing and maintaining it for their good work and for their ongoing assistance and support to us and other users," he says.

The author also talked about the motivations for carrying out the study. According to him, Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world, and there is a lot of interest involved in studying its land cover. Fendrich highlights that Brazilian biomes have enormous environmental importance, for example, for the preservation of biodiversity and for the global climate system. In addition, the country is very relevant for the production of food and commodities in the world.

The researcher also points out that there are many works on future land use scenarios in the literature, many of them focusing on very long periods of time - tens or hundreds of years. However, in Brazil, the concern and the range of possibilities are great even in the short term.page1image101589248

"In recent years, for example, the numbers of deforestation and forest degradation have increased a lot, which generates great concern. It was within this context that we went in search of data and methods that could help us build a reference of what may come to be the tomorrow of land cover in Brazil", he adds.

Arthur also spoke about the feeling of winning one of the most important awards in the field of Applied Mathematics. The researcher says that, from the moment the group came up with the idea until the day of publication, it took almost three years to search for new data and methods and carry out numerous tests and experiments.

"This entire long process could be documented in many pages and even the filtering of the results for presentation in the article was the result of a very cautious process. In addition, the research is very multidisciplinary and making the areas talk is always a challenge. It was very gratifying and we were very honored when we received the news that an institution as important and respected as SBMAC had chosen our work for the Johannes Kepler award", he concludes.

Member of SBMAC and also author of the project, Fernanda De Bastiani comments on the feeling of winning the award.

"It is a feeling of satisfaction for the recognition of the fruitful partnership in carrying out this work. It is a joy to know that works with an interdisciplinary character are being recognized in the area of Applied Mathematics and gaining visibility", she celebrates.

Johannes Kepler Prize

The Johannes Kepler Prize, instituted by SBMAC, offers the winners the amount of R$10,000 and also a certificate by the Society. Scientific articles published in journals with international circulation and with an editorial board of recognized competence, dedicated to topics that require strong interaction between Mathematics and another branch of scientific knowledge, can compete for the award.

In addition, at least one of the authors must work professionally in Brazil and at least two of the authors must have training in different research areas, one of them having a close connection with Mathematics.

In 2022, the winners outperformed other articles published between 2017 and 2021. The judging committee was composed of José Mario Martínez (chair), Pablo Ferrari, André Ponce de Leon Carvalho and Soledad Aronna.

As of the 2022 edition, the Kepler Prize is sponsored by SBMAC's Computational and Applied Mathematics journal.