The Uncertainty Bridge

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Scientists report not only what is known but to what degree it is known. Still, there is a fundamental difference between the way the public and policymakers see uncertainty and the way scientists do, which creates a gap that needs constant bridging, scientists say. It seems counterintuitive to people who are not scientists, talking so much about what we don't know," said James McCarthy, a professor of oceanography at Harvard University.

There are several coordinated efforts under way to bridge the gap.


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John Abraham, an associate engineering professor at Minnesota's St. Thomas University, is creating a "climate rapid response team" of scientists who are open to addressing the politics of global warming. The American Geophysical Union, separately, is establishing a bank of climate scientists to serve as experts on global warming.

It is probably no coincidence that policy debates involving environmental issues have often been long and contentious. A number of environmental debates, including those over acid rain and the depletion of the ozone layer, have centered on scientific uncertainties. She said the reason uncertainty has been especially played up in climate science is because "climate scientists were so vehement in their overconfidence, which just didn't stand up given the complexity of the problem.

Trying to hide uncertainties just ends up compromising the scientists and confusing the policymaking process.

Discharge uncertainty on bridge scour process

Uncertainty, she said, should be used as information in the decisionmaking process. But for lawmakers, it is not easy to incorporate uncertainty into policy or to prove to constituents that an action is necessary. Moreover, the public is not well aware of how uncertainty is handled in science, according to Robert Costanza, director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University In Oregon.

In the s and s, the United States had an Office of Technology Assessment, which analyzed complex scientific concepts, producing studies for Congress on subjects like the nation's energy future and ecosystem management and giving advice on how to address issues.

Experimental Uncertainty Analysis for NDT on the CSX Wilbur Bridge

The office was defunded during the anti-big government wave that followed the release of the Republican document called "Contract with America" and the Republican takeover of the Senate during the first term of the Clinton administration. Many other countries in Europe still have similar mechanisms, though, to assess the quality of scientific information. It is something the United States should consider again, said Thomas Dietz, vice chairman of the science panel in America's Climate Choices, a study done by the National Academy of Sciences.

Embracing Uncertainty - Joshua Bailey - [email protected]

The statistical results indicate that Lasso regression is the most effective one in predicting the demand model as it has the lowest mean square error and absolute error. As the sensitivity study identifies more than 1 significant variable, a multiparameter fragility model using Lasso regression is suggested in this paper.

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The proposed fragility methodology is able to identify the relative impact of each uncertain input variable and level of treatment needed for these variables in the estimation of seismic demand models and fragility curves. Thus, the proposed approach helps bridge owners to spend their resources judiciously e. This proposed approach can be applicable to other structures. Volume 47 , Issue 3. The full text of this article hosted at iucr.

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Making Sense of Science: How to Deal with Complexity and Scientific Uncertainty -

Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Summary Recent efforts of regional risk assessment of structures often pose a challenge in dealing with the potentially variable uncertain input parameters. Citing Literature. Volume 47 , Issue 3 March Pages Related Information.