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Simplicity out of complexity in environmental modelling: Occam's razor revisited.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1996
JournalJournal of Applied Statistics
Journal number2-3
Volume23
Number of pages46
Pages165-210
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

While large models based on a deterministic-reductionist philosophy have an important part to play in environmental research, it is advantageous to consider alternative modelling methodologies which overtly acknowledge the poorly defined and uncertain nature of most environmental systems. The paper discusses this topic and presents an integrated statistical modelling procedure which involves three main methodological tools: uncertainty and sensitivity studies based on Monte Carlo simulation techniques; dominant mode analysis using a new method of combined linearization and model-order reduction; and data-based mechanistic modelling. This novel approach is illustrated by two practical examples: modelling the global carbon cycle in relation to possible climate change; and modelling a horticultural glasshouse for the purposes of automatic climate control system design.