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Behaviour models

Method indicator
Bottom-Up Hybrid Top-Down

Summary of key issues:

Issue Description
Description To develop an understanding of the behaviour of the system by capturing the nature of relationships between system components and mapping it onto a simple model, which exhibits the same behaviour, but which does not need to have any relationship to the underlying physical processes.

Process based models provide insight into short term system behaviour, but evolution towards a longer term and / or larger scale equilibrium is often incorrectly reproduced.  

Behavioural models provide an alternative basis for understanding the behaviour of estuary and coastal systems at the scale of most relevance to management questions. Behavioural models is an overall model grouping and can cover a range of specific approaches. Further details of specific types of behavioural models can be seen for example under ‘Regime Relationships’.
Temporal applicability Years to decades (short-term)
Spatial applicability Whole estuary or specific geomorphological features
Links with other tools Behavioural models provide an insight into estuary behaviour that can also provide a basis for evaluating the output from more quantitative models.
Data sources Highly variable depending on precise nature of behavioural model. Data sources can include:
  • Qualitative understanding of estuary systems;
  • Process-based model results;
  • Parameters characterising / quantifying gross estuary properties;
  • Empirical relationships.
Necessary software tools / skills Highly variable depending on precise nature of behavioural model.   However, typically there is a high degree of expertise and knowledge required to apply such approaches. Some behavioural models tend of offer indicative rather than strictly quantitative insights into system behaviour. Although it is noted that other approaches can be considered quasi or fully quantitative.
Typical analyses Typically, application of a behavioural type model involves mathematical analysis of a system in order to achieve insights into the direction of change of any or all of the system variables in response to external forcing or an imposed alteration to the system.
  • Behavioural models are inherently limited by our ability to formalise known system behaviour mathematically within a logically consistent framework.
Example applications Example applications are highly variable, given the potential variation in type of behavioural model. However, indicative examples:
  • Assessment of direction of predicted change to different geomorphological elements present in an estuary following major perturbation;
  • Assessment of cross sectional change under sea level rise

The systems approach seeks to explain how the different elements that make up the system interact (Cowell & Thom, 1994; Capobianco et al. 1999). Hence from the outset there is a need to have a clear understanding of what the elements are and the processes that cause different elements to interact. This is the essence of the system behaviour and importantly can only be understood by considering how the elements change with time. For management purposes the morphological responses of interest will primarily be 1 to 100 km scale and over years to decades.

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Analysis and modelling

Last Modified on: 19 June 2011
Printed from the Estuary Guide on 22/05/2024 09:27:04