Modeling Earth's future

30 September 2013

Integrated assessments of linked human-natural systems.

Every year, UK and US scientists work together on topics of worldwide scientific concern, under the Sackler Forum sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler.  Previous fora have focused on global food security and neuroscience and the law.

Modeling Earth’s future: Integrated assessments of linked human-natural systems accounts for a workshop held at Chicheley Hall in September 2012, which uniquely brought together over 80 UK and US scientists from two modeling communities – climate and integrated assessment - to discuss the potential and the pitfalls associated with modeling human-natural systems. 

Integrated assessment models use numerical simulations of both natural and human systems to explore the wider impacts of climate change, unlike climate models that focus solely on natural, physical systems.  Valuable policy insights derive from these models, and the report concludes that integrated assessment models have the potential for rigorous, quantitative insight into how the planet and human societies might change in the future. They show, for instance, that the limits on emissions imposed by current policies are not adequate to avoid potentially dire changes to natural and human systems.

The forum was organised by a high-level steering group of distinguished researchers, who also contributed to the report’s content: 

  • Robert Dickinson (University of Texas)
  • Inez Fung (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Chris Hope FRS (University of Cambridge)
  • Brian Hoskins FRS (Imperial College, London)
  • Tim Palmer FRS (University of Oxford)
  • Ronald Prinn (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Keith Shine FRS (University of Reading)