Informing Climate-Related Decisions with Earth Systems Models

  • Lempert, Robert (PI)
  • Mearns, Linda (CoPI)
  • Keller, Klaus (CoPI)
  • Budescu, David (CoPI)
  • Parmesan, Camille C. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project aims to provide a deeper understanding of how best to use information from next-generation Earth System Models (EaSMs) to improve climate-related decisions. The project will explore the use of climate information from two sources: high-resolution, dynamically downscaled, regional projections from Atmospheric Ocean General Circulation Models and estimates of extreme climate behaviors from ensembles of runs from Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity. Decision-support applications in biodiversity and in water resource management will provide real-world experimental test beds to examine the value to decision makers of this climate information at alternative levels of spatial and temporal resolution and with alternative characterizations of uncertainty. Field evaluations and psychological experiments will formally measure the contributions of the alternative types of climate information towards better decisions. These three lines of research will combine to address two questions that are central to the effective production and use of information from EaSMs: (1) What is the value of climate information with increased spatial and temporal resolution? (2) What is the value of imprecise and/or deeply uncertain information about potentially extreme behaviors of the climate system?

The project will make significant contributions towards the EaSM interdisciplinary grand challenge by providing concrete evidence as to what types of climate information and which characterizations of uncertainty prove most valuable to those facing climate-related decisions. The nation's investment in next-generation EaSMs aims not only to improve fundamental scientific understanding of the climate and related systems, but also to improve decision makers' abilities to proactively plan for the impacts of climate variability and change. Decades of research on decision making and decision support confirm that merely providing additional information in complicated situations such as those posed by climate change does not necessarily improve the quality of the decisions. The results from this research may prove valuable in guiding those designing future EaSMs and the information systems that support them. In addition, the project aims to (a) improve methods for incorporating climate information into biodiversity and water management decisions; (b) advance the science of decision support, in particular the understanding of information needs, characterizations of uncertainty, and the evaluation of decision support activities; and (c) help train the multidisciplinary workforce the nation requires to respond to climate change.

Effective start/end date3/1/1112/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $1,300,000.00


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