Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 509178
Title Ignoring correlation in uncertainty and sensitivity analysis in life cycle assessment : what is the risk?
Author(s) Groen, E.A.; Heijungs, R.
Source Environmental Impact Assessment Review 62 (2017). - ISSN 0195-9255 - p. 98 - 109.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2016.10.006
Department(s) Animal Production Systems
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2017
Keyword(s) correlation - covariance matrix - global sensitivity analysis - Uncertainty propagation
Abstract

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an established tool to quantify the environmental impact of a product. A good assessment of uncertainty is important for making well-informed decisions in comparative LCA, as well as for correctly prioritising data collection efforts. Under- or overestimation of output uncertainty (e.g. output variance) will lead to incorrect decisions in such matters. The presence of correlations between input parameters during uncertainty propagation, can increase or decrease the the output variance. However, most LCA studies that include uncertainty analysis, ignore correlations between input parameters during uncertainty propagation, which may lead to incorrect conclusions. Two approaches to include correlations between input parameters during uncertainty propagation and global sensitivity analysis were studied: an analytical approach and a sampling approach. The use of both approaches is illustrated for an artificial case study of electricity production. Results demonstrate that both approaches yield approximately the same output variance and sensitivity indices for this specific case study. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the analytical approach can be used to quantify the risk of ignoring correlations between input parameters during uncertainty propagation in LCA. We demonstrate that: (1) we can predict if including correlations among input parameters in uncertainty propagation will increase or decrease output variance; (2) we can quantify the risk of ignoring correlations on the output variance and the global sensitivity indices. Moreover, this procedure requires only little data.

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