Uncertainty estimation for environmental models (including the GLUE methodology)

Problems of calibrating environmental models have long been recognised, and there is an increasing appreciation that model predictions should be associated with some estimate of uncertainty. How to estimate that uncertainty remains problematic, however, since there are multiple sources of uncertainty (including errors associated with the model structures used) that are difficult to estimate given the limitations of the data normally available. It can therefore be difficult to apply statistical methods that depend on specific models of the errors. An alternative approach, GLUE, has been developed at Lancaster, based on the acceptance that there may be many models that provide acceptable fits to the available data. This has now been applied to a wide range of problems including catchment hydrology, atmospheric and water quality, ecology, land surface parameterisations, groundwater and flood modelling. Recent work in this area is funded by a NERC Long Term grant ward to Keith Beven and by the EPSRC/Defra/EA Flood Risk Management Research Consortium.

Some recent references

  • Beven, K J, 2002, Towards a coherent philosophy for environmental modelling, Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. A, 458, 2465-2484.
  • Binley, A and Beven, K J, 2003, Vadose zone model uncertainty as conditioned on geophysical data, Ground Water, 41(2), 119-127.
  • Feyen, L, Gomez-Hernandez, J J, Ribeiro, P J, Beven, K J, De Smedt, F, 2003, A Bayesian approach to stochastic capture zone delineation incorporating tracer arrival times, conductivity measurements and hydraulic head observations, Water Resources Research, Water Resour. Res. Vol. 39(5 ), 10.1029/2002WR001544
  • Page, T., Whyatt, D., Beven, K.J. and Metcalfe, S.E.: 2004. Uncertainty in Modelled Estimates of Acid Deposition across Wales: A GLUE Approach. Atmospheric Environment, 38(14), 2079-2090.
  • Page, T., Beven, K.J. and Whyatt, D. 2004. Predictive Capability in Estimating Changes in Water Quality: Long-Term Responses to Atmospheric Deposition. Water Soil and Air Pollution, 151, 215-244.
  • Beven, K J, 2005, A manifesto for the equifinality thesis, J. Hydrology, in press

    Contact: Keith Beven