Comparing containerization-based approaches for reproducible computational modeling of environmental systems

Young Don Choi, Binata Roy, Jared Nguyen, Raza Ahmad, Iman Maghami, Ayman Nassar, Zhiyu Li, Anthony M. Castronova, Tanu Malik, Shaowen Wang, Jonathan L. Goodall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creating online data repositories that follow Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) principles has been a significant focus in the research community to address the reproducibility crisis facing many computational fields, including environmental modeling. However, less work has focused on another reproducibility challenge: capturing modeling software and computational environments needed to reproduce complex modeling workflows. Containerization technology offers an opportunity to address this need, and there are a growing number of strategies being put forth that leverage containerization to improve the reproducibility of environmental modeling. This research compares ten such approaches using a hydrologic model application as a case study. For each approach, we use both quantitative and qualitative metrics for comparing the different strategies. Based on the results, we discuss challenges and opportunities for containerization in environmental modeling and recommend best practices across both research and educational use cases for when and how to apply the different containerization-based strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105760
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Cloud computing
  • Container technology
  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • Hydrologic modeling
  • Jupyter notebooks
  • Reproducibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling


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