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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change
Research Highlights

March 2011

Integrated Regional Earth System Research Helps to Understand Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Issues in the U.S. Midwest

Regional Human - Earth System Interaction
Regional modeling of climate change and associated mitigation and adaptation decisions is necessary to explore the interactions, constraints, opportunities, and uncertainties that influence regional outcomes.
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Results: New research findings have been published on a one-of-a-kind modeling framework to address regional climate change and decision-making. The report, Understanding Decision Support Needs for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: U.S. Midwest Region, was developed by the research team involved in the integrated Regional Earth System Model (iRESM) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The report results demonstrate a need for better information on the uncertainty in future Great Lakes water levels, drought, extreme precipitation, heat waves, and changes in seasonal temperature and precipitation averages as input to adaptation and mitigation planning decisions.

Why it matters: The impacts of climate change are already affecting human and environmental systems worldwide. Regional models of human and environmental systems need to be developed to integrate climate, ecosystem, and energy-economic processes and to characterize the uncertainties in those processes in order to inform investment and risk management decisions. Understanding the impact of climate change and climate policy on the potential for regional land and water-use conflicts, for example, will be critical for adaptation and mitigation decision-making.

Methods: The report was developed through a literature review of more than 100 studies focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation issues in the U.S. Midwest as well as from an initial round of stakeholder interviews with representatives from Chicago-based state and city government agencies. Additional interviews with stakeholders in the U.S. Midwest are planned over the course of the pilot study, and similar stakeholder research will be conducted in other iRESM pilot regions. The stakeholder research is critical for guiding the uncertainty characterization process and assuring the relevance of analyses conducted with iRESM.

What's Next: Research efforts are continuing with engagement of regional planners from the energy and agriculture sectors across the Midwest. The iRESM team will publish the results of its stakeholder-related research as completed by region.

Reference: Rice JS, PJ Runci, R Moss, and KL Anderson.  2010. iRESM Initiative: Understanding Decision Support Needs for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation- U.S. Midwest Region. PNNL-20104, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.

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