Grand Theme 4 – Integrated Regional Assessments (IAMs)

Global IAMs have produced scenarios based on policy assumptions that provide insight into technological, economic and environmental outcomes based on alternative assumptions about policy choices, population growth, technology and so on. There are not now components of the global IAMs that account for human beings as socially and culturally operating agents in the Earth System. Developing and accounting for these human cultural and non-optimal economic behavior is a top priority for the AIMES contribution to Future Earth and we will pursue this largely through the development of a family of regional IAMs, at scales closer to the human decision-making and cultural scales than global models can easily achieve.  Collaboration between this project and IHOPE scales will also allow us to integrate historical dynamics and better learn from the past that is possible presently.

We will do this in collaboration between IAM teams working in various parts of the world to answer questions concerning the impact of climate and other environmental and societal factors on a region, its population, its economy (business and agriculture), in the context of regional cultural characteristics.

They will also offer an opportunity to compare both across various modeling strategies and conceptions, and across scales (e.g., how important is a regional analysis) and thus to improve the quality of regional IAM’s and their intersections with climate and environment.

Currently, the following regional integrated assessment activities are early examples of the type of projects done to date, as a foundation for future work:

  1. Climate Impact and Assessment Center for Arizona (at Arizona State University). This Center will provide place-based services and products to address climate variability and uncertainty, merging research-based climate information and practitioner knowledge for decision-making in arid land urban centers of the United States and the world.
  2. The Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), developed and maintained by the Joint Global Change Institute (JGCRI), is developing a regional capability for the 50-states in the United States. The emphasis of this work is to develop a 50-state electric, energy and demographic data system that can be used to evaluate policy implications in any combination of the 50 states.
  3. Impacts of Climate Extremes on Ecosystem and Human Health in Brazil (PULSE-Brazil), is a project funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and led by AIMES co-chair, Peter Cox. PULSE-Brazil has developed a Geographical Information System (GIS) to enable scientists and policymakers to visualize data and model relationships between, climate, ecosystem function and human-health in Brazil.

AIMES can provide the coordination to extend the regional IAM capability outside the US on an international level.  Developing a regional capability based upon existing global IAMs will require the acquisition and archival of regional data that currently are not available, nor often, easily obtained.  Many data that are required for energy-economics are proprietary (such as energy operations models), and data sets that describe cropping systems, migration, demographic processes can be difficult or impossible to verify.

Overall aim: Create a suite of regional IAMs, of which some are capable of modelling long-term historical trends and all are capable of projecting scenarios into the future.

(Lead: Kathy Hibbard)

Integrated Modelling of Human and Environmental Systems