Uncertainty propagation in spatial environmental modelling

PostDoc project Kasia Sawicka on uncertainty propagation

Problem definition and objective

According to The Water Framework Directive (WFD) each member country of EU is required to ensure water bodies achieve a good ecological status. It is important to predict the impact of interventions on water quality (WQ). Cost estimates by EU governments indicate that billions of euros will be spent over several decades to implement WFD and the concern on the implementation cost (financial and carbon) is rising. Integrated water quality models designed to predict the quality of water across the linked urban and rural scales in a catchment is seen as a tool to optimise this cost. Catchment scale WQ predictions are then used to justify investment. Current water quality sub-models contain significant uncertainty. Methods have been developed to quantify uncertainty at a level, however, little work has been carried out to investigate WQ uncertainty propagation between sub-models. Therefore, there is a need for development of a generalised catchment wide approach to uncertainty assessment that can then be used in WFD implementation studies.

The EU Marie-Curie funded project QUICS (Quantifying Uncertainty in Integrated Catchment Studies, collates 12 PhD candidates and four postdocs  to perform quality research and collaborate with each other for developing and implementing uncertainty analysis tools for ICM. This position constitutes one of the postdoc positions in the above project.

The aim of this postdoc project is to facilitate uncertainty propagation analysis in spatial environmental modelling by developing, testing and publishing an R package that can address various environmental models.


The R package will be developed focusing on uncertainty propagation assessment by Monte Carlo analysis and may be extended by Taylor series approach with a particular focus on spatial modelling. Efficient algorithms will be implemented to speed up Monte Carlo – based calculations. Effective communication of the uncertainty assessment will be developed and surveyed. Manuals and protocols, as well as training materials, will be prepared for end-users.

Start of the project: 1st July 2015

Duration: 24 months

List of collaborators and associated partners:

·       Wageningen University (two MSc projects as the package development sub-projects)

·       University of Sheffield

·       University of Bristol

·       TU Delft

·       Halcrow Group Ltd

·       Justus-Liebig University Giessen

·       Universidade de Coimbra 

·       TUDOR (CHT)

·       EAWAG

·       Aquafin NV

·       Waterways s.r.l.

·       Ruhr-Universität Bochum

·       Witteveen + Bos

·       Université Laval

·       Centro  Tecnológico

·       de  Gestão  Ambiental, Ltd.


please contact me if you need any information about my project (see contact details above).