New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Cattle Conundrum

Team: 16

School: Centennial High

Area of Science: Environmental Science


Interim: Problem Definition:
Methane is a naturally produced gas and is one of the most common greenhouse gases emitted in the United States. Although the lifespan of methane is shorter than that of carbon dioxide, it is more efficient at trapping radiation in the atmosphere.

In 2010, methane made up 10% of all greenhouse gases in the United States produced through human activity. Worldwide, methane makes up about 60% of all greenhouse gases created through human activities. Methane is also produced by cattle, and because they are raised by humans for food, their production of methane is counted as human activities. Over a hundred-year period, methane has a 20 times greater impact on climate change than carbon dioxide.

Some of the potential effects of climate change could be negative. Regionally, agricultural practices could be threatened by temperature changes and precipitation changes. An increase in floods, droughts, and severe storms could occur. Due to the temperature changes, sea levels could rise, jeopardizing vulnerable coastlines around the world.

The goal of this project is to find the levels of methane produced by a certain amount of dairy cattle for a certain period of time, and to find a way to reduce the levels, thus slowing down the effects of climate change. Our plan for solving this problem is to create a computer model using Netlogo that displays the amount of methane a certain number of cows produce in a day, week, month, etc. Then we will see how changes in diet can reduce methane production.

Project Solution:
The environment of our model will be a farm with dairy cows in the field. We will use such variables as the number of cows in the field and the type of food that they eat. We will also have a variable that converts the methane into energy, thus seeing how much methane is used.

Progress to Date:
Currently, research has been done to calculate how much methane cows produce, the effect the cow’s diet has on it’s production of methane, and which sector of the beef industry produces the most methane. The team has also learned the basics of programming in NetLogo.

Expected Results:
Once our model has been programmed, we expect that the user will be able to see how a change in one variable can affect the amount of methane produced and the amount of methane in the atmosphere.


Team Members: Analyssa Martinez, Arianna Martinez, Skyler Trujillo, and Miguel Monsivais


Team Members:

  Analyssa Martinez
  Arianna Martinez
  Miguel Monsivais
  Skyler Trujillo

Sponsoring Teacher: Melody Hagaman

Mail the entire Team

For questions about the Supercomputing Challenge, a 501(c)3 organization, contact us at: consult @ challenge.nm.org

New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, Inc.
Post Office Box 30102
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87190
(505) 667-2864

Supercomputing Challenge Board of Directors
Board page listing meetings and agendas
If you have volunteered for the Challenge, please fill out our In Kind form.