Integrated assessment models of global climate change

Edward A. Parson, Karen Fisher-Vanden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


We review recent work in the integrated assessment modeling of global climate change. This field has grown rapidly since 1990. Integrated assessment models seek to combine knowledge from multiple disciplines in formal integrated representations; inform policy-making, structure knowledge, and prioritize key uncertainties; and advance knowledge of broad system linkages and feedbacks, particularly between socioeconomic and biophysical processes. They may combine simplified representations of the socioeconomic determinants of greenhouse gas emissions, the atmosphere and oceans, impacts on human activities and ecosystems, and potential policies and responses. We summarize current projects, grouping them according to whether they emphasize the dynamics of emissions control and optimal policy-making, uncertainty, or spatial detail. We review the few significant insights that have been claimed from work to date and identify important challenges for integrated assessment modeling in its relationships to disciplinary knowledge and to broader assessment seeking to inform policy- and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-628
Number of pages40
JournalAnnual Review of Energy and the Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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