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Modeling Sustainability: Need to Couple Earth & Human System

Friday, April 13, 2018
12:15pm – 2:30pm

Storrs Campus
Castleman, Room 212

Modeling Sustainability: Need to Couple Earth and Human System Models

Dr. Eugenia Kalnay, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland

The Human System now dominates the Earth System, and since 1950 the population and GDP per capita have been both growing at about 2%/year, indicating that the total use of Earth resources is doubling every 20 years, a clearly unsustainable path. We point out that the IPCC Earth System models (and Integrated Assessment models) are not bi-directionally coupled with Human System. Without fully coupling the Earth and Human Systems it is not possible to model the positive and negative feedbacks and delays needed to represent climate change and sustainability, in the same way that without a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere model it is impossible to simulate El Niño, since it is the result of two-way feedbacks and delays between the ocean and the atmosphere. We describe a prototype of a fully coupled Earth System model, including government policies.

A simple coupled Human and Nature Dynamical Model (HANDY) with Elites and Commoners allows performing “thought experiments”. They show that an egalitarian society can reach equilibrium with nature, whereas the presence of either large inequality or excessive use of natural resources both lead to societal collapse, as has happened with many civilizations in the last 5000 years. Introducing non-renewable resources into the HANDY model results in an explosive population growth similar to that observed since the use of fossil fuels triggered the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s and the Green Revolution in the 1950’s.

Prior to coming to UMD, Eugenia Kalnay was Branch Head at NASA Goddard, and later the Director of the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP, formerly NMC), National Weather Service (NWS) from 1987 to 1997. During those ten years there were major improvements in the NWS models' forecast skill. Many successful projects such as the 60+years NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis (the paper on this Reanalysis has been cited over 10,000 times), seasonal and interannual dynamical predictions, the first operational ensemble forecasting, 3-D and 4-D variational data assimilation, advanced quality control, and coastal ocean forecasting. EMC became a pioneer in both the fundamental science and the practical applications of numerical weather prediction.

Current research interests of Dr. Kalnay are in numerical weather prediction, data assimilation, predictability and ensemble forecasting, coupled ocean-atmosphere modeling and climate change and sustainability. Zoltan Toth and Eugenia Kalnay introduced the breeding method for ensemble forecasting. She is also the author of other widely used ensemble methods known as Lagged Averaged Forecasting and Scaled LAF. Her book, Atmospheric Modeling, Data Assimilation and Predictability (Cambridge University Press, 2003) sold out within a year, is now on its fifth pr

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