Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Regional Earth System Model for U.S. Northeast Corridor - Complexity, Scales, and the Intersection of Climate, Biogeophysical and Energy Modeling Domains

Monday, May 12, 2014 - 07:00
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The Northeast region in the United States exhibits many of the complex changes taking place across the nation's landscapes, energy systems, and watersheds, yet also provides a unique lens through which to assess options for managing large-scale natural resource systems. Because atmosphere, land, and aquatic systems are linked closely through the water, energy, and biogeochemical cycles, change to any one of these entities holds the potential for system-wide feedbacks, thresholds, and unintended consequences. In the context of climate change and long-term energy and ecosystem response times, decisions made today on managing the environment reverberate long into the remainder of this century. This project assembles an interdisciplinary research team with expertise in physics, biogeochemistry, energy, engineering, economics, and policy engagement to simultaneously study the phenomena with multi-scale and multi-purpose modeling tools and improve the translation of research findings to the research community, academia, decision makers and public.


The growing number of national initiatives on climate, carbon sequestration, renewable energy development, pollution control, and biodiversity protection places this work at the forefront of relevant Earth systems research. We hypothesize that the manifestations of human impact on environmental systems of the Northeast are regionally-significant and that both natural and engineered human systems dictate the trajectories of change. This project has built a Northeast Regional Earth System Model (NE-RESM) that improves understanding and capacity to forecast the implications of human interactions on the region's environment, ecosystem services, energy, and economy through the 21st century. We use scenario experiments to test our hypothesis and to make forecasts about the future. We see this research as a major step forward in developing a capacity to diagnose and understand the state of large, complex, interconnected and interacting human-natural systems.


The unique combination of existing models and data sets enable rapid progress made, emphasizing the integrative and synthetic aspects of our work, with diverse spatial and temporal scales, and process details, requires addressing different scientific questions. Major advances include: coupling of meso-scale atmospheric physics and chemistry models to a terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem model; impacts of climate on water and energy systems; geospatial modeling of anthropogenic emissions and biotic source/sinks at improved temporal resolutions; a linked ecosystem services accounting tool; and meso-economic input-output model to evaluate the impacts of ecosystem services constraints on sub-regional economies.

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