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PURE Research Programme

Research

The research is organised around four main themes (see below). The following links provide more detailed information on the research within each of the consortia:

CREDIBLE Research Programme RACER Research Programme

Research themes

Accounting for natural hazard model limitations

Evidence synthesis

Assessments of natural hazards and the associated risks are invariably made using models, the nature of which varies between hazard areas. This variation reflects different degrees of understanding of the process, the resolution and quantity of the data available for model calibration and identification, and the duration of data records relative to the time scales of interest. The use of imperfect models and incomplete or inaccurate data is often a major source of uncertainty in hazard and risk assessment: quantifying this uncertainty is the first theme of the research. Many risk assessment exercises involve the consideration of multiple sources of evidence - for example, information from different data sets or from different models. Different data sets may purport to measure or estimate the same thing, but often they are not directly comparable (for example, the instrumental earthquake record cannot be compared directly with palaeoseismic evidence). Similarly, different models produce different answers to the same question. The second theme of the research will examine how best to combine multiple (potentially conflicting) sources of information, and to quantify the uncertainty in the result.

Accounting for unquantifiable uncertainties

Develop tools to support prioritisation and decision-making

For robust assessments of risk, it is important that all sources of uncertainty must be accounted for somewhere. Often however, some uncertainties are omitted from formal analyses because they are considered too hard to quantify. Various options, ranging from subjective probabilistic analysis to the development of resilient decision strategies, are available to account for such uncertainties: the third theme of the research is to examine these options and demonstrate their applicability in the context of environmental hazard and risk assessment. A key feature of the PURE research programme is its close link to stakeholders: it is vital that the results are relevant to the users of the science. Therefore, uncertainties in natural hazard assessments must be propagated through to risk assessments and to the decision-making process. This in turn requires that the science and user communities must learn to communicate in such a way that users are able to understand and benefit from the uncertain information that science can provide. The final theme of the research therefore focuses on the provision of information in a form that is both relevant to, and understood by, users of the science.