Forecasting acidification effects using a Bayesian calibration and uncertainty propagation approach

  • Thorjørn Larssen
  • Ragnar Bang Huseby
  • Bernard J. Cosby
  • Gudmund Høst
  • Tore Høgåsen


We present a statistical framework for model calibration and uncertainty estimation for complex deterministic models. A Bayesian approach is used to combine data from observations, the deterministic model, and prior parameter distributions to obtain forecast distributions. A case study is presented in which the statistical framework is applied using the hydrogeochemical model (MAGIC) for an assessment of recovery from acidification of soils and surface waters at a long-term study site in Norway under different future acid deposition conditions. The water quality parameters are coupled with a simple dose−response model for trout population health. Uncertainties in model output parameters are estimated and forecast results are presented as probability distributions for future water chemistry and as probability distributions of future healthy trout populations. The forecast results are examined for three different scenarios of future acid deposition corresponding to three different emissions control strategies for Europe. Despite the explicit consideration of uncertainties propagated into the future forecasts, there are clear differences among the scenarios. The case study illustrates how inclusion of uncertainties in model predictions can strengthen the inferences drawn from model results in support of decision making and assessments.