Putting people into climate models: A multi-model approach to integrating human behavior and climate change

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Principal Investigator: 
Brian Beckage, University of Vermont
Katherine M. Lacasse, Rhode Island College
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Earth system models lack dynamic representations of human emissions behavior but instead rely on static projections of future emissions. This approach ignores feedbacks between the social and climate systems: The impacts of climate change are likely to alter human perceptions of climate change and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emission behaviors that, in turn, influence the magnitude of climate change. Our past Pursuit made progress with the integration of climate and human behavioral models. Our coupled climate-social model (CSM) implemented a single behavioral model and focused specifically on how the physical impacts of climate change (extreme events) would alter human risk-perceptions and subsequent GHG emissions behavior. We propose three new activities to build on this progress. 1. We will incorporate a set of alternative models of human behavior with a climate model to examine the robustness of our initial CSM results. 2. We will broaden the feedbacks between the human and climate systems by including economic impacts in addition to physical impacts of extreme events. 3. We will integrate our CSM model with a system dynamics representation of an Earth system model that includes a wider set of state variables/processes including energy, water, agriculture, and demographic change in addition to GHG emissions and temperature change. These proposed activities will examine the robustness of previous results to choice of human behavioral model, will strengthen the links between climate and human systems, and will expand our examination of the impacts that can emerge from these linkages.

This is SESYNC Leadership-invited Foundation.

Sara Metcalf, University at Buffalo
Louis Gross, University of Tennessee
Wander Jager, University of Groningen
Katharine Mach, University of Miami
Fran Moore, University of California Davis
Travis Franck, Climate Interactive
Karim Chichakly, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Dale Rothman, George Mason University
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