Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System

Type of Structure: program
Regional Scope: global
Parent Organisations: FutureEarth, IGBP
Child Organisations:
Duration : 2004 to present
Contact Address: no office contact defined

holding an official function in AIMES

General information and objectives

Models and observations can help us to understand the natural Earth System dynamics on which current anthropogenic perturbations are superimposed and the complex response of the Earth System to change in its external environment. The overall challenge for AIMES is to achieve a deeper and more quantitative understanding of the role of human perturbations to the biogeochemical cycles in altering the coupled physical climate system. The overarching goal will be to understand and quantify the influence of human choice on environmental change and subsequent feedbacks. In order to understand human perturbations, it is important to foster and improve our baseline understanding of Earth System dynamics and their components. That said, the prominence of activities initiated in GAIM, such as the Integrated History and future of the Planet Earth (IHOPE), suggests that it will likely be difficult to disengage the drivers of human and environmental processes, and indeed, it may be on the timescales of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) challenge that represent the ‘true’ baseline dynamics. Integrating across both temporal and geographic scales are key and addressed in AIMES’ objectives. Specifically, the objectives of AIMES are to develop a quantitative and predictive understanding of:
• The operation and interactions of global biogeochemical cycles, including transfers of materials between land, ocean, atmosphere and lithosphere and their linkage to physical climate.
• The causes and consequences of changes in atmospheric composition through glacial-interglacial cycles to provide an understanding of the biophysical coupled system as a basis for modeling climate-biogeochemistry interactions on long timescales.
• The interplay of environmental changes with human activities in history and prehistory including the interaction between the physical environment, human decision making and consequent additional human forcing back to the physical system.
• The operation of the contemporary Earth system, as perturbed by and influencing human actions, during the industrial era and the recent observational period.
• Possible scenarios for the interaction of climate, biogeochemistry and society during the 21st century, and their implications for the sustainable use of natural resources.

The new AIMES project is highly topical because of increasing concerns in society about changes in climate and their consequences for habitability, human health and well being, ecosystem goods and services, energy production and other human activities. At the same time, Earth System Science poses intellectual challenges of a fundamental scientific nature. This dual aspect provides both a challenge and an opportunity for scientists to work across disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

Coupled Earth system analyses in AIMES will require consideration of a range of temporal and spatial scales. To understand and quantify coupled human/natural processes, it is necessary to establish "baseline" natural behavior of the Earth System and subsequent feedbacks to changes in the Earth’s environment under a wide range of conditions. The recent (10-100 years) period contains a global imprint of human activities that are recorded in a wide variety of natural records (tree rings, ice cores, coral reefs, sediments) and observational datasets. The next century is the focus for concerns about the consequences of large-scale human activities for sustainable resource use and human development. These issues provide a motivation to use Earth System models diagnostically to understand the past and prognostically to understand the interactions between human activities and environmental change into the future.

Similarly, AIMES will cross spatial scales by linking regional processes into a global framework, crossing scales. Global change results from the cumulative impact of human actions at many scales-even the global change in carbon dioxide concentration results from a myriad of small-scale uses of fossil fuels and land use decisions. Other human interactions with global impacts and teleconnections include regional deforestation, urban emissions, biomass burning and dust production. The regional processes both affect global change and respond to it. AIMES will work closely with the developing regional intensive studies to both include important regional changes in global models and analyses and to provide information of possible regional consequences of global environmental changes. In addition, crossing these scales will provide a natural way of beginning the integration of detailed studies of human actions and decision making into a global framework, respecting the intensely regional differentiation of our societies and cultures.

For further details, link to the AIMES Home Page

Last update: 4/18/16
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)

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