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  • jamieledingham

Winter reading

You’d be hard pushed to find a hydrologist that doesn’t have some use of, or interaction with, models of some kind. Escape from Model Land is an easily readable book; it does not get bogged down in jargon or technical detail. It is not a book about hydrological modelling, but I believe that is to the hydrologists advantage. The reason for this short note, and in my opinion, the main reason you should read it, is that it forces the reader to think more widely about why models are constructed, how they are constructed, what they can tell us, who constructs them and who uses them.

The book is structured into ten chapters. After an initial introduction to the varied world of modelling, the author sets out some of the key challenges (and solutions) in managing the gap that often exists between models and the real-world. Topics under scrutiny include the diversity of those involved in modelling and how that affects model assumptions as well as ‘explainability’ in model results. The book ends with five generic improvements that can be made to most modelling processes (I won’t spoil it for you by repeating these here!).

The Covid pandemic, and the interest in model predictions (and how they were used) is a great illustration of why a previously niche area of work can be catapulted into the public eye due to the potential social consequences. Within hydrology, model outputs are increasingly being used to help manage some of the worst effects of extreme weather and climate change, so we owe it to ourselves as professionals and the people we’re helping to suitably scrutinise our work. To that end, I think that whether you’re a thirty-year veteran of hydrological model building or fresh out of education, you should be able to gain something useful from this book.


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