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Sensitivity analysis of environmental models: a systematic review with practical workflow

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Francesca Pianosi
  • Keith John Beven
  • Jim Freer
  • Jim Hall
  • Jonathan Rougier
  • David B. Stephenson
  • Thorsten Wagener
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Modelling and Software
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)214-232
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/02/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Sensitivity Analysis (SA) investigates how the variation in the output of a numerical model can be attributed to variations of its input factors. SA is increasingly being used in environmental modelling for a variety of purposes, including uncertainty assessment, model calibration and diagnostic evaluation, dominant control analysis and robust decision-making. In this paper we review the SA literature with the goal of providing: (i) a comprehensive view of SA approaches also in relation to other methodologies for model identification and application; (ii) a systematic classification of the most commonly used SA methods; (iii) practical guidelines for the application of SA. The paper aims at delivering an introduction to SA for non-specialist readers, as well as practical advice with best practice examples from the literature; and at stimulating the discussion within the community of SA developers and users regarding the setting of good practices and on defining priorities for future research.