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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-251
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Review article 21 Aug 2017

Review article | 21 Aug 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Epistemic uncertainties and natural hazard risk assessment. 2. What should constitute good practice?

Keith J. Beven1,2, Willy P. Aspinall3, Paul D. Bates4, Eduardo Borgomeo5, Katsu Goda7, Jim W. Hall5, Trevor Page1, Jeremy C. Phillips3, Michael Simpson8, Paul J. Smith1,6, Thorsten Wagener7,9, and Matt Watson3 Keith J. Beven et al.
  • 1Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 3School of Earth Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
  • 4School of Geographical Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
  • 5Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK
  • 6European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, Reading, UK
  • 7Department of Civil Engineering, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
  • 8Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Exeter University, Exeter, UK
  • 9Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, UK

Abstract. Part 1 of this paper has discussed the uncertainties arising from gaps in knowledge or limited understanding of the processes involved in different natural hazard areas. Such deficits may include uncertainties about frequencies, process representations, parameters, present and future boundary conditions, consequences and impacts, and the meaning of observations in evaluating simulation models. These are the epistemic uncertainties that can be difficult to constrain, especially in terms of event or scenario probabilities, even as elicited probabilities rationalised on the basis of expert judgements. This paper reviews the issues raised by trying to quantify the effects of epistemic uncertainties. Such scientific uncertainties might have significant influence on decisions made, say, for risk management, so it is important to examine the sensitivity of such decisions to different feasible sets of assumptions, to communicate the meaning of associated uncertainty estimates and to provide an audit trail for the analysis. A conceptual framework for good practice in dealing with epistemic uncertainties is outlined and implications of applying the principles to natural hazard science are discussed.

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Keith J. Beven et al.
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Part 1 of this paper has discussed the uncertainties arising from gaps in knowledge or limited understanding of the processes involved in different natural hazard areas. These are the epistemic uncertainties that can be difficult to constrain, especially in terms of event or scenario probabilities. A conceptual framework for good practice in dealing with epistemic uncertainties is outlined and implications of applying the principles to natural hazard science are discussed.
Part 1 of this paper has discussed the uncertainties arising from gaps in knowledge or limited...
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