An open access, generic ePlatform for environmental model-building at the river-basin scale (Machu-Picchu)

The Machu-Picchu project is developing eInfrastructure for better predictions of water quality and quantity.

The science behind water management 

The project An open access, generic ePlatform for environmental model-building at the river-basin scale – also called Machu-Picchu – will provide scientists and public authorities with an electronic infrastructure that facilitates scientifically sound and technically advanced prediction of water quantity and quality. 

Water management is vital for progress and sustainability of society. Management regimes incorporate elements of science, policy and stakeholder engagement. Successful water management focuses on the geographical area drained by a river and its tributaries, that is, the watershed. The watershed involves a complicated interplay between land use, climate change and increasing demands for scarce water resources. 

Better tools – via open access 

Computer programs, or models, that take account of all the variables in the watershed can provide help in understanding this complexity. Models are useful for asking ‘what-if’ questions and predicting the potential impact of proposed land management measures. Moreover, they are also useful for testing scientific hypotheses and gaining greater insight into what causes changes in water quality. 

Computer models for water quantity and quality require significant computer-processing power. The models need to be tested against real-world data to make reliable predictions possible. Simply put, more time-consuming calculations often lead to better results, but remain impractical with everyday computers. To solve this problem, we want to enable users of models to access high-performance computers in a convenient manner. The infrastructure will be ideally suited for studying the impact of climate and land-use change in Nordic countries, particularly on transboundary water bodies which transcend national programmes. 

Software developed during this project will be open-access, that is, publicly available to the community. Similarly, the codes will be open-sources to allow contributions and modification of the code after the project. 


The project has received NOK 4 million in funding over a three-year period. 

The institutions participating in the project are the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Facts about the project

Project number: 74306

Project leader

Raoul-Marie Couture, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)

3 år