### Abstract

Understanding the limitations of environmental data is essential both for managing environmental systems effectively and for encouraging the responsible use of scientific research when knowledge is limited and priorities varied. Explicit assessments of data quality, and the uncertainties associated with data quality, are important in this context.
Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques for assessing probabilities, and acknowledging the importance of possibilistic techniques where probabilities are inappropriate, an integrated methodology is presented for handling uncertainties about environmental data.
The methodology is based on a three-fold distinction between the magnitudes of uncertainty in data (and the ancillary information, such as data ‘support’, required to interpret this correctly), the sources of uncertainty in data, and the ‘goodness’ of an uncertainty model (critical self-reflection). In particular, emphasis is placed upon the conditions and parameters required for estimating quantitative probability models, for which a number of data categories are introduced, and on the application of simplifying assumptions to quantitative models of uncertainty.
The methodology is illustrated with examples for different types of environmental data, including a discrete time-series, a categorical spatial variable and a continuous space-time variable, and for different complexities of problem. Here, three scenarios are introduced, including an ‘information-rich’ case, where probabilistic estimates of uncertainty are easily made, an ‘intermediate case’, and an ‘information-poor’ case, where the perceived quality of data, as well as the ‘goodness’ of an uncertainty model, becomes more case (person) dependent.

Original language | English |
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Title of host publication | Accuracy 2004 |

Editors | H.T. Mowrer, R. McRoberts, P.C. van Deusen |

Place of Publication | Portland, Maine U.S.A. |

Publisher | R.E. McRoberts |

Pages | 26 |

Publication status | Published - 2004 |

Event | The sixth int. symp. on spatial accuracy as. in nat. res. and env. sc. and the fifteenth annual conf. of TIES, Portland, 28 June - 1 July 2004 - Duration: 28 Jun 2004 → 1 Jul 2004 |

### Conference

Conference | The sixth int. symp. on spatial accuracy as. in nat. res. and env. sc. and the fifteenth annual conf. of TIES, Portland, 28 June - 1 July 2004 |
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Period | 28/06/04 → 1/07/04 |

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## Cite this

Brown, J., & Heuvelink, G. B. M. (2004). An integrated framework for assessing uncertainties in environmental data, illustrated for different types of data and different complexities of problem. In H. T. Mowrer, R. McRoberts, & P. C. van Deusen (Eds.),

*Accuracy 2004*(pp. 26). Portland, Maine U.S.A.: R.E. McRoberts.