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Side Event: Integrated catchment modelling uncertainty - QUICS final dissemination event


On Thursday 2nd November 2017, the EU-funded Marie-Curie-ITN “Quantifying Uncertainty in Integrated Catchment Studies” (QUICS) will host a free of charge practitioner-focused side event of the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) to share new knowledge and tools related to uncertainty in integrated catchment studies. Registration is free of charge and allows also free entrance to the Aquatech Trade Exhibition after attending the workshop. 

Topics include:

  • Quantification and the propagation of uncertainty at significant temporal and spatial scales in catchments;
  • Approaches for minimising uncertainties in integrated models;
  • Techniques for model reduction of computationally expensive models;
  • Real world case studies on integrated catchment modelling;
  • Tools, which can be deployed by end users considering all aspects of modelling uncertainty and hence they are able to be used in the context of the decision-making process.

The deadlines for compliance with EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) are getting closer. Increasing effluent quality standards and reducing intermittent wastewater discharges are suggested routes by which these standards may be achieved. As most of the no regret and relatively cheap measures have already been taken, huge investments may be necessary for compliance. Meeting the challenges of the WFD at an acceptable cost will require a sophisticated and holistic understanding and assessment of the water quality processes within a catchment, the ability to deploy models and assessment tools to achieve such a catchment-wide overview is essential for informed decision making, efficient and effective management of the environment as well as delivering cost-effective asset management and treatment strategies across the EU.

The models used to simulate these processes have originally been developed by academics, often with little consideration for levels of predictive uncertainty found in real life situations. As a result, the degree of uncertainty in commonly used water quality predictions is currently unknown and cannot be considered in the decision-making process when investing in assets. Uncertainty can be especially large when complex water quality models of different spatial and temporal scales are coupled. From a technical point of view, the quantification of this uncertainty is not a trivial task. For example, linking a complex, data-intensive model of a sewer network with a crude river quality model may result in large unforeseen uncertainties in the prediction of sensitive areas, so the benefit of integrating the models or choosing a very detailed description for one of the sub-models is lost completely. Incorrect use and linkage of such models can therefore result in predictions with very high degrees of uncertainty. These uncertain predictions can then lead to sub-optimal decisions for remedial measures.

Unfortunately, current end users of integrated catchment models neither have the knowledge nor the practical tools to estimate the levels of uncertainty associated with single sub-models of different spatial and temporal resolution. Nor are tools available to describe how these uncertainties are propagated between models and so influence the water quality predictions throughout the catchment. As modelling is an expensive and time consuming exercise, information on predictive uncertainty needs to be provided to practitioners so that local authorities or utilities can evaluate the impact of these uncertainties on their investment decisions. Analysis of the occurring uncertainties in the planning process and communication of the results to the involved stakeholders is expected to lead to a more robust and cost-effective design and decision-making process.

In these fields, the EU funded FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) Quantifying Uncertainty in Integrated Catchment Studies (QUICS) performs high quality research for developing and implementing uncertainty analysis tools for Integrated Catchment Modelling. The main aim of the QUICS ITN is to educate and train researchers. It collates 12 PhD Candidates (Early Stage Researchers, ESR) and four postdocs (Experienced Researchers, ER) capable of operating at academic research institutions, water utilities or other public bodies to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of water quality processes, uncertainty issues and knowledge of appropriate decision-making strategies for integrated catchment management. The QUICS ITN comprises 9 partners who are universities, research institutes and commercial enterprises where the researchers will be based. The project also includes 10 associate partners who are involved in training and also host the researchers during secondments. This collaboration with each other succeeded in developing and implementing uncertainty analysis tools for Integrated Catchment Modelling.

To register for this FREE event, visit the side-events page, deadline 1st October 2017. 

Note: to get free entry if you are only attending the side event, be sure to select the registration category "I will only visit a side event". Registration allows also free entrance to the Aquatech Exhibition after attending the workshop.

For further information, please visit The University Of Sheffield's website or contact Franz Tscheikner-Gratl, Delft University of Technology at F.Tscheikner-Gratl@tudelft.nl.

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