Research Briefs

Linking society and climate

A dusty dirt road winding through dry fields.

NCAR scientist Brian O’Neill is building an integrated assessment model to link a range of societal factors, such as future global economic and population trends, with the physical science of climate change. The iPETS (Integrated-Population-Economy-Technology-Science) model will help researchers better understand how human dimensions can have subtle but important influences on the emissions of greenhouse gases.

O'Neill and his collaborators, including scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, plan to begin using iPETS by the end of this year. Initially, they will examine possible links between global demographic trends, such as aging, urbanization, and changes in living arrangements, with trends that have impacts on emissions, such as energy consumption and land use.

In time, they will use the model to address a number of additional problems. These include exploring alternative emissions reduction strategies and their effects on climate, the role of land use change in climate change response strategies, new approaches to accounting for uncertainty, and regional assessments of impacts and mitigation strategies for climate change.

The research can help inform decision makers as they try to minimize future greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.