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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-250
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Review article
21 Aug 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Epistemic uncertainties and natural hazard risk assessment. 1. A review of different natural hazard areas
Keith J. Beven1,2, Susana Almeida3, Willy P. Aspinall4, Paul D. Bates5, Sarka Blazkova6, Edoardo Borgomeo7, Katsu Goda3, Jim W. Hall7, Jeremy C. Phillips4, Michael Simpson7, Paul J. Smith1,8, David B. Stephenson9, Thorsten Wagener3,10, Matt Watson4, and Kate L. Wilkins4 1Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
2Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
3Department of Civil Engineering, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
4School of Earth Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
5School of Geographical Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
6T. G. Masaryk Water Resource Institute, Prague, Czech Republic
7Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK
8European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, Reading, UK
9Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Exeter University, Exeter, UK
10Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, UK
Abstract. This paper discusses how epistemic uncertainties are considered in a number of different natural hazard areas including floods, landslides and debris flows, dam safety, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic ash clouds and pyroclastic flows, and wind storms. In each case it is common practice to treat most uncertainties in the form of aleatory probability distributions but this may lead to an underestimation of the resulting uncertainties in assessing the hazard, consequences and risk. It is suggested that such analyses might be usefully extended by looking at different scenarios of assumptions about sources of epistemic uncertainty, with a view to reducing the element of surprise in future hazard occurrences. Since every analysis is necessarily conditional on the assumptions made about the nature of sources of epistemic uncertainty it is also important to follow the guidelines for good practice suggested in the companion Part 2.

Citation: Beven, K. J., Almeida, S., Aspinall, W. P., Bates, P. D., Blazkova, S., Borgomeo, E., Goda, K., Hall, J. W., Phillips, J. C., Simpson, M., Smith, P. J., Stephenson, D. B., Wagener, T., Watson, M., and Wilkins, K. L.: Epistemic uncertainties and natural hazard risk assessment. 1. A review of different natural hazard areas, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-250, in review, 2017.
Keith J. Beven et al.
Keith J. Beven et al.
Keith J. Beven et al.

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This paper discusses how uncertainties resulting from lack of knowledge are considered in a number of different natural hazard areas including floods, landslides and debris flows, dam safety, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic ash clouds and pyroclastic flows, and wind storms. Since every analysis is necessarily conditional on the assumptions made about the nature of sources of such uncertainties it is also important to follow the guidelines for good practice suggested in Paper 2.
This paper discusses how uncertainties resulting from lack of knowledge are considered in a...
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