Quantifying Model Uncertainty in Environmental Impact Assessment

By Marina G. Erechtchoukova and Peter A. Khaiter.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Integrated environmental assessment is aimed at evaluation of the current and future environmental quality in order to facilitate implementation of sustainable decisions. It clearly requires appraisal of relevant natural and societal processes that affect environmental resources. Due to the ability to imitate real world system reactions to external disturbances without actual perturbation of the system, simulation models are commonly recognized as efficient tools for environmental assessment. Simulation results are used for decision/policy making process which requires not only projected values of ecosystem characteristics, but also evaluation of their uncertainty. Traditionally, evaluation of model uncertainty is conducted for a complete set of model state variables and fixed set of parameters and requires a large number of simulation runs which can be time and labour consuming. The paper examines the importance of realistic evaluation of model uncertainty in environmental assessment. Investigation of the ways how simulation results are used in environmental impact assessment suggests introduction of an output function which takes into account only interesting variables and assessment of the uncertainty of the function rather than of the entire model. The paper describes a water quality assessment case study and demonstrates the advantage of application of an output function.

Keywords: Environmental Impact Assessment, Model Uncertainty, Output Function, Eutrophication Process, Simulation Model

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.65-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 727.275KB).

Prof. Marina G. Erechtchoukova

Assistant Professor, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada

Dr. Erechtchoukova is an Assistant Professor of Information Technology in the J.F. Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Canada. She received her BS and MS degrees in Applied Mathematics and PhD in Computer Science. Author of more than 50 research papers. Fields of work: application of information technology to sustainable environmental resource management and environmental monitoring, data-driven and model-driven decision support, simulation modeling for environmental assessment.

Prof. Peter A. Khaiter

Assistant Professor, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada

Dr. Khaiter is an Assistant Professor of Information Technology in the J.F. Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Canada. He received his BS and MS degrees in Economic Cybernetics, MS in Environmental Studies and PhD in Mathematical Modelling/Information Technology. Author of about 60 research papers. Fields of work: sustainable development, socio-economic and ecological systems, economic valuation and management of natural resources, environmental economics, mathematical modeling of complex systems, information systems for environmental monitoring and sustainable management.

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