Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-42
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-42

  27 Nov 2020

27 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

Communicating uncertainties in spatial predictions of grain micronutrient concentration

Christopher Chagumaira1,2,3, Joseph G. Chimungu3, Dawd Gashu4, Patson C. Nalivata3, Martin R. Broadley1, Alice E. Milne2, and R. Murray Lark1 Christopher Chagumaira et al.
  • 1School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, LE12 5RD, United Kingdom
  • 2Sustainable Agriculture Sciences Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, United Kingdom
  • 3Crop and Soil Sciences Department, Bunda College, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, P O BOX 219, Lilongwe, Malawi
  • 4Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Abstract. The concentration of micronutrients in staple crops varies spatially. Quantitative information about this can help in designing efficient interventions to address micronutrient deficiency. Concentration of a micronutrient in a staple crop can be mapped from limited samples, but the resulting statistical predictions are uncertain. Decision makers must understand this uncertainty to make robust use of spatial information, but this is a challenge due to the difficulties of communicating quantitative concepts to a general audience. We proposed strategies to communicate uncertain information and present a systematic evaluation and comparison in the form of maps. We proposed to test five methods to communicate the uncertainty about the conditional mean grain concentration of an essential micronutrient, selenium (Se). Evaluation of the communication methods was done through questionnaire by eliciting stakeholder opinions about the usefulness of the methods of communicating uncertainty. We found significant differences in how participants responded to the different methods. In particular there was a preference for methods based on the probability that concentrations are below or above a nutritionally-significant threshold compared with general measures of uncertainty such as the confidence interval of a prediction. There was no evidence that methods which used pictographs or calibrated verbal phrases to support the interpretation of probabilities made a different impression than probability alone, as judged from the responses to interpretative questions, although these approaches were ranked most highly when participants were asked to put the methods in order of preference.

Christopher Chagumaira et al.

 
Status: open (until 26 Feb 2021)
Status: open (until 26 Feb 2021)
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Christopher Chagumaira et al.

Christopher Chagumaira et al.

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Short summary
Our study is concerned with how the uncertainty in spatial information about environmental variables can be communicated to stakeholders who must use this information to make decisions. We tested five methods to communicate the uncertainty in spatial predictions by eliciting opinions of end-users about the usefulness of the methods. End-users preferred methods based on the probability that concentrations are below or above a nutritionally-significant threshold.
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