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Integrating uncertainty theories with GIS for modeling coastal hazards of climate change
Cowell, P.J.; Zeng, T.Q. (2003). Integrating uncertainty theories with GIS for modeling coastal hazards of climate change. Mar. Geod. 26(1-2): 5-18
In: Marine Geodesy. Taylor & Francis: Philadelphia, PA etc.. ISSN 0149-0419, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Cowell, P.J.
  • Zeng, T.Q.

    Prediction of coastal hazards due to climate change is fraught with uncertainty that stems from complexity of coastal systems, estimation of sea level rise, and limitation of available data. In-depth research on coastal modeling is hampered by lack of techniques for handling uncertainty, and the available commercial geographical information systems (GIS) packages have only limited capability of handling uncertain information. Therefore, integrating uncertainty theory with GIS is of practical and theoretical significance. This article presents a GIS-based model that integrates an existing predictive model using a differential approach, random simulation, and fuzzy set theory for predicting geomorphic hazards subject to uncertainty. Coastal hazard is modeled as the combined effects of sea-level induced recession and storm erosion, using grid modeling techniques. The method is described with a case study of Fingal Bay Beach, SE Australia, for which predicted responses to an IPCC standard sea-level rise of 0.86 m and superimposed storm erosion averaged 12 m and 90 m, respectively, with analysis of uncertainty yielding maximum of 52 m and 120 m, respectively. Paradoxically, output uncertainty reduces slightly with simulated increase in random error in the digital elevation model (DEM). This trend implies that the magnitude of modeled uncertainty is not necessarily increased with the uncertainties in the input parameters. Built as a generic tool, the model can be used not only to predict different scenarios of coastal hazard under uncertainties for coastal management, but is also applicable to other fields that involve predictive modeling under uncertainty.

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