Recent Question/Assignment

Models in Environmental Science
Course paper requirements
Environmental system modelling draws upon a wide range of quite distinct approaches and there are many different ways of modelling a given set of processes, depending on the perspective and goal of the modeller. One of the challenges in modelling is to be able to make a sensible choice of modelling approach, to justify this with reference to the nature of the problem and the available data. It is also important to be able to articulate the pros and cons of a particular modeling approach in a way that is easily understood by users - who will often not be expert modellers.
Within this context, there is need for a critical review of a given modelling approach and some of the environmental or climate change science problems to which it can be usefully applied.
Choose one model from the list of 3 suitable classes of model below
• Empirical transfer function models useful Web of Science
search options: [-Transfer function- environmental] or [-Transfer function- paleoecology] –
but do experiment a little here!)
• Causal Loop Analysis Useful Web of Science search options: [-Causal Loop- Model Analysis],
[-System dynamics- model modeling] etc. to narrow the field a little, though this field is
narrow than the others anyway)
• Box models (simplified versions of complex systems, which reduce them to boxes (or
reservoirs) linked by fluxes; Useful Web of
Science search options: [err, well … try -Box model- ], and then refine the field to
ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES. You will then get around 1,000 hits rather than 10,000!
Reviews should have a title of the form
‘Empirical transfer function models in climate [environmental] science: a critical review
Your review should include:
1. An introduction to the origins of the approach (perhaps including some early applications, possibly in other fields) and its recent environmental/climate science applications. It might also be appropriate to give some indication of how the chosen model class fits into a wider spectrum of approaches.
2. A summary of basic assumptions / foundations of the chosen approach, with an indication of application areas. You might narrow the focus to a selected field here given that, fluid dynamics models, for example, are very widely applied indeed.
3. Some illustrative case study applications – say, 2 or 3 good papers that nicely illustrate the model development / application process. A good review will not just describe these one after the other but will highlight details that illustrate particular aspects / variations of the approach.
4. A critical discussion to sum up some of the pros and cons, including areas where the chosen model type offers the best approach, and some where it is less applicable. You might also identify areas where research is onoing or some challenges for the future in terms of improving our modelling capability.
5. References
Presentation guidelines
Reviews should be word processed in a consistent font (Arial is a good choice; do not use font sizes less than 10 please). Please include page numbers (this makes it easier for us to provide feedback on specific points).
Figures or tables may be used where appropriate. Useful guidance on the design of these can be found in the DEFRA/EA guidelines for the reporting of research.
All references should be cited in the text and detailed in full in a list of references, formatted in a consistent style.
Word limit
No more than 3000 words in length (excluding references and figure captions, tables etc).
Presentation (including style of academic writing; layout)
Scope (extent of independent scholarship and use of literature
Accuracy of synthesis (classification of models; correct use of technical terms; critical assessment)
Accuracy of referencing
Deadline: 20 December 2016
The following paper provides a model for a critical review of a specific modelling approach:
Bach PM et al., 2014. A critical review of integrated urban water modelling - Urban drainage and beyond. Environmental Modelling & Software 54, 88-107.
Obviously you will not be able to quite match the scope and scholarship in a 3000 word course paper, but it does at least provide some academic style pointers.
You probably won't need to create too many original figures but guidance on the preparation of figures and tables can be obtained from this useful Defra/EA Report Production Guide. Note guidance on captions and the placement and citation of figures and tables within the text etc.