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Ignorance is bliss: Or seven reasons not to use uncertainty analysis

Pappenberger, F. and Beven, Keith J. (2006) Ignorance is bliss: Or seven reasons not to use uncertainty analysis. Water Resources Research, 42 (W05302). ISSN 0043-1397

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Abstract

Uncertainty analysis of models has received increasing attention over the last two decades in water resources research. However, a significant part of the community is still reluctant to embrace the estimation of uncertainty in hydrological and hydraulic modeling. In this paper, we summarize and explore seven common arguments: uncertainty analysis is not necessary given physically realistic models; uncertainty analysis cannot be used in hydrological and hydraulic hypothesis testing; uncertainty (probability) distributions cannot be understood by policy makers and the public; uncertainty analysis cannot be incorporated into the decision-making process; uncertainty analysis is too subjective; uncertainty analysis is too difficult to perform; uncertainty does not really matter in making the final decision. We will argue that none of the arguments against uncertainty analysis rehearsed are, in the end, tenable. Moreover, we suggest that one reason why the application of uncertainty analysis is not normal and expected part of modeling practice is that mature guidance on methods and applications does not exist. The paper concludes with suggesting that a Code of Practice is needed as a way of formalizing such guidance.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Water Resources Research
Uncontrolled Keywords: uncertainty analysis ; modeling ; hydrology ; hydraulics
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 8971
Deposited By: Ms Margaret Calder
Deposited On: 20 May 2008 10:05
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 18:29
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/8971

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