4. Dealing with Uncertainty in Erosion Model Predictions

  1. R. P. C. Morgan5 and
  2. M. A. Nearing6
  1. K. J. Beven1,2,3 and
  2. R. E. Brazier4

Published Online: 5 JAN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444328455.ch4

Handbook of Erosion Modelling

Handbook of Erosion Modelling

How to Cite

Beven, K. J. and Brazier, R. E. (2010) Dealing with Uncertainty in Erosion Model Predictions, in Handbook of Erosion Modelling (eds R. P. C. Morgan and M. A. Nearing), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444328455.ch4

Editor Information

  1. 5

    National Soil Resources Institute, Cranfield University, UK

  2. 6

    USDA-ARS, Southwest Watershed Research Center, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Lancaster Environment Centre, University of Lancaster, Lancaster LA1 4YW, United Kingdom

  2. 2

    GeoCentrum, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

  3. 3

    ECHO/ISTE, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland

  4. 4

    School of Geography, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Exeter EX4 4RJ, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 JAN 2011
  2. Published Print: 22 DEC 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405190107

Online ISBN: 9781444328455



  • dealing with uncertainty - in erosion model predictions;
  • most widely used erosion model in practice today - the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE);
  • Soil Conservation Service (SCS) runoff generation model of Mockus (1949);
  • forward uncertainty estimation, each source of uncertainty - defined in certain ways;
  • assessing uncertainty in model predictions - distinguishing, two types of simulation applications;
  • Bayesian uncertainty estimation - using a formal statistical framework, evaluating predictive uncertainty;
  • most common technique used - integrating likelihood function, range of Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) methods;
  • Chemicals, Runoff, and Erosion from Agricultural Management Systems (CREAMS);
  • Système Hydrologique Européen (SHE) soil erosion model - subject to a sensitivity analysis;
  • addressing Type III errors, future creativity from modellers - based on careful analysis of model failures


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Why Worry About Uncertainty in Erosion Models?

  • Uncertainty About Uncertainty Estimation

  • Model Evaluation as Hypothesis Testing in the Face of Uncertainty

  • The Information Content of Observations in Constraining Uncertainty

  • Review of Uncertainty Analysis of Soil Erosion Models

  • Case Study: Using WEPP to Predict UK and US Erosion Data

  • The Future

  • References