State of the Art Report

The State-of-the-art report can be downloaded as one document (3.63 MB) or as chapters (< 350 kB). A summary introduces the report.


The objective of the present report is to provide a state-of-the-art of methodologies and guidelines related to quality assurance in water resources modelling. This includes methodologies prepared for international scientific purposes as well as national guidelines prepared for management purposes.

The reviews provided in the different chapter of the present state-of-the-art report aim to cover the diversity both across the different disciplines of modelling and between different countries in Europe.

The reviews aim at covering the disciplines, or domains, of modelling that will be required for implementing the Water Framework Directive. These domains cover the topics of surface water, groundwater, water quality, ecology and socio-economy for inland water, transition waters and estuaries.

A summary of the different practices of using quality assurance guidelines for modelling that can be found among the different domains and between countries is given in Chapter 2. This chapter also contains our recommendations on which key elements from the various existing guidelines and which new elements should be emphasised or added in the further HarmoniQuA work on establishment of generic guidelines.

Quality assurance in modelling involves establishment of a common terminological foundation. In addition, it inevitably touches upon fundamental and controversial issues such as whether a model can be said to be verified or validated at all. This is addressed in Chapter 3, where a theoretical framework is proposed, including a consistent terminology and the foundation for a methodology bridging the gap between scientific philosophy and pragmatic engineering. With its focus on scientific philosophical issues and terminology, Chapter 3 may appear to be somewhat ‘heavy’ to read. It should be emphasised in this regard that the other chapters can easily be read independently of Chapter 3. Chapter 3 forms the basis for establishment of a common glossary that is a future HarmoniQuA deliverable.

State-of-the-art on methodologies and guidelines for quality assurance in the different disciplines of modelling are described by separate reviews for the seven domains listed above (Chapters 4-10).

The present report does not focus on the modelling techniques or model codes as such. Thus, there is no thorough description of various modelling techniques or reviews of modelling codes. As quality assurance in the modelling process requires supporting software tools a review has been made of the capability of existing model software packages in this respect (Chapter 11). The aim of this review is to analyse whether the new guidelines and methodologies to be developed in the HarmoniQuA to a reasonable degree can be supported by existing software packages or whether a fundamental gap exist.

The diversity in practises between countries is illustrated through a number of case studies presented in Chapters 12-19. Reflections of the reasons for these differences are made in Chapter 2.

Full document

Refsgaard, J.C. (ed.). 2002. State-of-the-Art Report on Quality Assurance in modelling related to river basin management, HarmoniQuA-report, D-WP1-1



Updated on 02 October 2007 by Huub Scholten, Wageningen University. Contact on MoST, ProST, modelling KB, KB-editor, GlosT or this website? Email: or .