A toolbox to find the best mechanistic model to predict the behavior of environmental systems

André G. van Turnhout*, Robbert Kleerebezem, Timo J. Heimovaara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Reliable prediction of the long-term behavior of environmental systems such as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills is challenging. While many driving forces influence this behavior, characterization of them is limited by measurement techniques. Therefore, a model structure for reliable prediction needs to optimally combine all measured information with suitable mechanistic information from literature. How to get such an optimal model structure? This study presents a toolbox to find and build the model structure that describes an environmental system as close as possible. The toolbox combines environmental frameworks to include all suitable mechanistic information; it fully couples kinetic and equilibrium reactions and contains multiple resources to obtain biogeochemical parameters. Several possible optimal model structures are quickly built and evaluated with objective statistical performance criteria obtained via Bayesian inference. By applying the novel methodology, we select the best model structure for anaerobic digestion of MSW in full scale landfills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-355
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Modelling & Software
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Bayesian inference
  • Integrative assessment of environmental systems
  • Mechanistic biogeochemical modeling
  • Optimal data description
  • Qualitative and quantitative model selection


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