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Developing Human System Modules for Regional Climate Models. Jessie Cherry [email protected] Peter Larsen [email protected] Presentation Outline. “Old school” approach to the study of Human Dimensions (HD) of Climate Change; Shortcomings with the “old school” approach;

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Developing human system modules for regional climate models

Developing Human System Modules for Regional Climate Models

Jessie Cherry

[email protected]

Peter Larsen

[email protected]

Presentation outline
Presentation Outline

  • “Old school” approach to the study of Human Dimensions (HD) of Climate Change;

  • Shortcomings with the “old school” approach;

  • Some examples of HD modeling;

  • Direct integration of HD into regional climate modeling (i.e., “new school”);

  • Implementation potential for particular sectors

Past treatment of human dimensions
Past Treatment of Human Dimensions

  • Second (or third-order) modeling runs;

  • Limited use of downscaled physical projections;

  • Few examples of model comparison/testing platforms and input/output sensitivity analyses;

  • Weighted index, Delphi, and/or subjective approaches are often employed; and

  • Stakeholder feedback often occurs later on in the development process, if at all.

Examples of modeling hd alaska
Examples of Modeling HD: Alaska

HD Project: “Estimating Risk to Alaska Public Infrastructure from Climate Change” (Larsen et al, 2008)

Examples of modeling hd california
Examples of Modeling HD: California

HD Project:

“Estimating Risk to California Energy Infrastructure from Climate Change” (Sathaye et al, 2009)

Past/Current HD Modeling Concerns

The “old school” de-coupled HD approach:

  • creates a strong disconnect between the physical modeling and the climate impacts communities;

  • occasionally ignores stakeholder needs for timely policy and decision making;

  • often misses important feedbacks between human agents and the climate system; and

  • makes it difficult to compare and test alternative modeling techniques.

Some Arctic Human Dimensions….

  • Resource Development

  • Hazard Response

  • Freshwater Supply

  • Renewable Energy (wind, hydro, geothermal)

  • Commercial and Sport Fishing/Hunting

  • Public and Private Infrastructure

  • Tourism

  • Subsistence Harvest

  • Marine Transport

  • Human Health

A “New School” HD Modeling Proposal….

  • Develop Human System Modules directly into the Arctic System Modeling platform;

  • Make these modules portable and transparent between different regional models;

  • Encourage international collaboration;

  • Focus on producing multiple socioeconomic impact measures; and

  • Facilitate model testing, scenario development, stakeholder feedback, etc.

Some Thoughts on Climate/HD Model Interactions

  • Need not occur at each model time step (e.g., hours vs. planning decades);

  • One or two-way coupling may be appropriate depending on the system (e.g., GHG emissions); and

  • Socioeconomic data collection and dissemination will need to be substantially improved;

  • Quantifying coupled model uncertainty is very important, but difficult to communicate.

Some Thoughts on Communicating Uncertainty in HD Impacts…

Source: Larsen et al (2008)

Three different AOGCMs

Monte-carlo Simulation (varied inputs)

More Thoughts on Uncertainty in HD Impact Estimates…

Harvard Economics Professor Martin Weitzman noted in a seminal 2008 paper that fat-tailed structural uncertainty about climate change, coupled with a lack of information about high-temperature damages, can potentially outweigh the influence of discounting in a cost-benefit analysis framework.

What are the Challenges?

  • Training and supporting interdisciplinary researchers may be the biggest challenge;

  • Pan-Arctic data collection and management is another major challenge;

  • Stakeholder engagement is time-consuming and expensive;

  • Some research disciplines are further along in the evolution of systems modeling; and

  • User-friendly “decision support tools” will need to be developed in close collaboration with stakeholders.

Why include HD modules directly into an ASM?

  • There are (some) appropriate existing regional HD models;

  • We have the computing resources;

  • We can attempt to minimize miscommunications between the physical and social scientists across the Arctic;

  • It’s interesting and policy-relevant work at the frontiers of research!!!

Additional information
Additional Information

  • International Arctic Research Center at UAF:

  • Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP):

  • State of Alaska Climate Change Materials:

  • E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

  • Goldman School of Public Policy:

    Note: This presentation includes personal views of Peter Larsen.

Climate change planning
Climate Change Planning

Walsh & Chapman:

PRISM downscaled multi-model projections of temperature and precipitation for AK under various scenarios of Greenhouse Gas emissions

Integrated assessment
Integrated Assessment

Definition: any model which combines scientific and socio-economic aspects of climate change primarily for the purpose of assessing policy options for climate change control (Kelly & Kolstad, 1998)

Integrated assessment modeling
Integrated Assessment Modeling

McGuffie & Henderson-Sellers, 2005

Integrated assessment models
Integrated Assessment Models

McGuffie & Henderson-Sellers, 2005

Example of human system module
Example of Human System Module

Goal is to be model independent; work with CCSM and other models/ couplers


New scientific methodology
New Scientific Methodology?

Funtowicz & Ravetz, in Ecological Economics, 1991

Arctic human dimensions
Arctic human dimensions

  • Oil and Gas Module (spill transport)

  • Rural Resilience (wind power potential)

  • Coastal Erosion (evolving coastline)

  • Freshwater (hydropower, water supply)

  • Marine Fisheries (Bering ecosystem)

  • Marine Transport (ice cover trajectories)


Lower Trophic Level

Ecosystem Model





14 component Model















Benthic Detritus





BSIERP Vertically Integrated models

Economic/ecological model

FEAST Higher trophic level model


Lower trophic level


Physical Oceanography

Nested models


Climate scenarios


Impact of Climate Change on Infrastructure study done for Alaska by Peter Larsen and collaborators

Flow chart of model processes



Climate Projections










Flow Chart of Model Processes


Wind farm parameterization for wrf
Wind Farm Parameterization for WRF

Adams & Keith

Modification of the MYJ PBL scheme

Similar work being done commercially by 3TIER, AER, others

Hydropower aea

AEA Energy Atlas, 2007

Hydropower AEA

Example of climate related decision support
Example of Climate-Related Decision Support