An Integrated Framework for Climate Change Assessment

Active Project
An Integrated Framework for Climate Change Assessment

Project Leaders:

Focus Areas: 

  • Food, Water & Forestry
  • Infrastructure & Air Pollution
  • Infrastructure Resilience
  • Energy

With previous support from the DOE Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the MIT Joint Program 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. In this project we aim to: 1) continue to develop our global integrated modeling system, with a focus on energy-water-land-atmosphere 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. energy-water-land-atmosphere 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; 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-land-atmosphere interactions and to a more resolved look at the potential vulnerability and environmental implications of alternative renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass) systems at scale.

Funding Sources