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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Earth Syst. Dynam., 6, 447-460, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
16 Jul 2015
A framework for the cross-sectoral integration of multi-model impact projections: land use decisions under climate impacts uncertainties
K. Frieler1, A. Levermann1,2, J. Elliott3,4, J. Heinke1, A. Arneth5, M. F. P. Bierkens6, P. Ciais7, D. B. Clark8, D. Deryng9, P. Döll10, P. Falloon11, B. Fekete12, C. Folberth13, A. D. Friend14, C. Gellhorn1, S. N. Gosling15, I. Haddeland16, N. Khabarov17, M. Lomas18, Y. Masaki19, K. Nishina19, K. Neumann20,21, T. Oki22, R. Pavlick23, A. C. Ruane24, E. Schmid25, C. Schmitz1, T. Stacke26, E. Stehfest21, Q. Tang27, D. Wisser28, V. Huber1, F. Piontek1, L. Warszawski1, J. Schewe1, H. Lotze-Campen1,29, and H. J. Schellnhuber1,30 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
2Institute of Physics, Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany
3University of Chicago Computation Institute, Chicago, Illinois, USA
4Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research, New York, New York, USA
5Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, IMK-sIFU, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
6Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
7IPSL – LSCE, CEA CNRS UVSQ, Centre d'Etudes Orme des Merisiers, Gif sur Yvette, France
8Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford, UK
9Tyndall Centre, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
10Institute of Physical Geography, J. W. Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
11Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
12Civil Engineering Department, The City College of New York, New York, USA
13Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland
14Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
15School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
16Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Oslo, Norway
17International Institute for Applied System Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
18Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
19Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
20Wageningen University, Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen, the Netherlands
21PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, the Netherlands
22The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
23Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
24NASA GISS, New York, New York, USA
25University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
26Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
27Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Process, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
28Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
29Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
30Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Abstract. Climate change and its impacts already pose considerable challenges for societies that will further increase with global warming (IPCC, 2014a, b). Uncertainties of the climatic response to greenhouse gas emissions include the potential passing of large-scale tipping points (e.g. Lenton et al., 2008; Levermann et al., 2012; Schellnhuber, 2010) and changes in extreme meteorological events (Field et al., 2012) with complex impacts on societies (Hallegatte et al., 2013). Thus climate change mitigation is considered a necessary societal response for avoiding uncontrollable impacts (Conference of the Parties, 2010). On the other hand, large-scale climate change mitigation itself implies fundamental changes in, for example, the global energy system. The associated challenges come on top of others that derive from equally important ethical imperatives like the fulfilment of increasing food demand that may draw on the same resources. For example, ensuring food security for a growing population may require an expansion of cropland, thereby reducing natural carbon sinks or the area available for bio-energy production. So far, available studies addressing this problem have relied on individual impact models, ignoring uncertainty in crop model and biome model projections. Here, we propose a probabilistic decision framework that allows for an evaluation of agricultural management and mitigation options in a multi-impact-model setting. Based on simulations generated within the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), we outline how cross-sectorally consistent multi-model impact simulations could be used to generate the information required for robust decision making.

Using an illustrative future land use pattern, we discuss the trade-off between potential gains in crop production and associated losses in natural carbon sinks in the new multiple crop- and biome-model setting. In addition, crop and water model simulations are combined to explore irrigation increases as one possible measure of agricultural intensification that could limit the expansion of cropland required in response to climate change and growing food demand. This example shows that current impact model uncertainties pose an important challenge to long-term mitigation planning and must not be ignored in long-term strategic decision making.

Citation: Frieler, K., Levermann, A., Elliott, J., Heinke, J., Arneth, A., Bierkens, M. F. P., Ciais, P., Clark, D. B., Deryng, D., Döll, P., Falloon, P., Fekete, B., Folberth, C., Friend, A. D., Gellhorn, C., Gosling, S. N., Haddeland, I., Khabarov, N., Lomas, M., Masaki, Y., Nishina, K., Neumann, K., Oki, T., Pavlick, R., Ruane, A. C., Schmid, E., Schmitz, C., Stacke, T., Stehfest, E., Tang, Q., Wisser, D., Huber, V., Piontek, F., Warszawski, L., Schewe, J., Lotze-Campen, H., and Schellnhuber, H. J.: A framework for the cross-sectoral integration of multi-model impact projections: land use decisions under climate impacts uncertainties, Earth Syst. Dynam., 6, 447-460,, 2015.
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