Department für Geographie





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Human-Earth system coupling

Fachgebiet: Modellierung

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Julia Pongratz
Projektwissenschaftler: Prof. Dr. Julia Pongratz

Laufzeit: 01/2019 - 12/2025

Our capabilities of modeling the biogeochemical and physical Earth system as well as socioeconomic dynamics have advanced substantially over the last decades. However, the two modeling realms remain largely separated and feedbacks between humans and the Earth system are largely absent - although it is likely that some of them are important.


In particular on the land use side, the interactions between climate, vegetation, and humans are obvious: humans manage land, land provides food, weather impacts food production, deforestation alters climate by causing CO2 emissions and altering water and energy fluxes. We thus explore which interactions need to be represented in a coupled way, to capture potential feedbacks between the natural Earth system and human activities, and how this could be achieved.


To this end, we contribute to two projects that bring together scientists from the natural and human sciences:

First, we initiated a working group of the DKN (German Committee Future Earth) on modeling human-environmental interactions in the Anthropocene (HERMITIAN). It addresses the lack of societal feedbacks within the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), the scenarios of land use change and of fossil emissions that underlie many climate simulations.

Second, we co-chair the working group "Modeling Earth System and Human interactions" (MESH) that facilitates the development of new methods and scenarios for coupling Earth System Models, Integrated Assessment Models and other human system models.

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