An Integrated Framework for Climate Change Assessment

Funding Program: 

With previous support from the DOE Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has developed a comprehensive analytical capability, the MIT Integrated Global System Model (IGSM) framework. With this facility the Joint Program has unique capabilities to:

  1. investigate complex interactions among economic and technological sectors, and Earth system components; 
  2. develop and apply methods for examining uncertainty in economic and Earth system projections and their implications for future climate and other environmental changes; and
  3. investigate the interaction of mitigation and adaptation strategies at the global and regional levels, recognizing the inherent uncertainties.

Here we propose to:

  1. continue to develop our  global integrated modeling system, with a focus on energy-water-land-atmosphere (E-W-L-A) interactions;
  2. better characterize uncertain responses of the Earth system at scales relevant to decision-making under uncertainty; and
  3. focus efforts on the U.S. (E-W-L-A) interactions to develop understanding of U.S. vulnerability to global environmental change and tools that can assist in adaptation to these changes.

The IGSM framework is composed of an Earth system model, an economic model of human activity, and a growing set of components that link economic activity to natural resources affected by environmental change. In terms of IGSM framework enhancements, a major focus is the linkages between the Earth system and economic activity through water, crops, renewable energy resources, and atmospheric chemistry. The focus will be on enhancing these linkages in the global model, but with increased fidelity on U.S. resource sectors. A version of economic activity component of the IGSM, built on state-level data for the U.S. will be a focus for better characterizing trade-offs between renewable energy and other energy resources, along with linkages to water and land. A set of uncertainty studies will:

  1. evaluate key uncertainties in the ocean that help explain decadal variability, now seen as responsible for the warming “hiatus”;
  2. examine predictability of hydrologic response to climate change especially as it affects power generation (hydroelectricity, power plant cooling); and
  3. assess vulnerability of the grid to extreme events and links to decision-making under uncertainty. The enhanced modeling framework will be applied to U.S. Energy-Water-LandAtmosphere interactions and to a more resolved look at the potential vulnerability and environmental implications of alternative renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass) systems at scale.

Activities for this work will be reported under this federal grant number: ​DE-FG02-94ER61937

Project Term: 
2018 to 2019
Project Type: 
University Funded Research

Research Highlights:

A Simpler, Faster Way to Assess Environmental Impacts on Crop Yields Highlight Presentation
Modeling Water Availability for Irrigation in the US Highlight Presentation
New Technique Improves Understanding of Changes in the Frequency of Heavy Precipitation Highlight Presentation