Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research

Decision Support

Decision Support


We use decision-support tools to integrate the outputs from our research programme into decision-making and policy.

These tools support decision makers in understanding long term changes and the implications of interventions in coupled technological, human and natural systems. 

Tools include advanced visualisations and methods, including uncertainty analysis. 

Software tools

We have considerable experience of provision of software tools for decision makers. 

One example is the EARWIG weather generator. Another is the sustainable water management DSS developed for the Palestinian aquifer. 

Services on the web

We are converting our modelling tools so that they can be delivered as services on the web.  These incorporate advanced methods for spatial and temporal visualisation - for example in Google Earth. 

These virtual environments support the participation of stakeholders in complex decision problems. They allow visualisation of decision options. They enable vivid communication of scenarios of change in system performance.‌

Uncertainty analysis

Uncertainty is an inescapable aspect of ESE decision-making. This is because of the complexity of the systems involved, the time-scales of appraisal and the fundamental role of human agency in system behaviour. 

Uncertainty analysis forms a large component of the decision-support research theme.  We focus on the treatment of severe uncertainty in complex decision problems. 

Sensitivity and scenario analysis 

Sensitivity analysis allows us to identify the most critical influences on the management outcome of a system. 

Scenario analysis allows a direct comparison between potential management options.


Of fundamental importance is the problem of assimilating observations into simulation models. This is through a process of calibration.

The Bayesian version of this calibration problem is another focal point of our research on uncertainty analysis. 

This has been achieved for calibration of steady-state models with spatial data.  Work is continuing on calibration of time-varying models.

Applications of uncertainty analysis

The use of uncertainty analysis has been demonstrated in a number of applications.  For example, we've studied the flood risk management of the Thames estuary under conditions of uncertain long term sea level rise and economic development. 

Another example is studying the uncertainty inherent in climate predictions into assessment of water resources for London. 

Demonstration of the utilisation of the UKCP09 climate predictions is continuing.