Wk 3: Littell

A Simple but Mostly Elegant Kitchen Sink: Statistical & Process Modeling of Climate Change Impacts on Natural and Human Systems

Jeremy Littell

4-5:30, Tuesday, October 13, 2009, LH 1

PLATO Royalty Lecture Series[1]

Jeremy Littell Research Scientist at the Climate Impacts Group (13 October 2009) discussed management techniques for the 1/10th of fires that cause 90% of the damage and possible tree species would replace the migrating Douglas Fir. A model described as ‘climate-smart” (such as future habitats of certain plants) takes data/conditions from a climate model and inputs into itself (potentially “dangerous and misleading) without human analysis.” *Also Columbia River water temperatures that will be lethal for migrating salmon.

Abstract: The focus of modeling climate impacts futures has shifted slightly in the last few years from a focus on the question “What might happen?” to a focus more on “What is the range of things that might happen here?” and the resulting application question, “How should we plan for them?”.  Along the way, modeling the impacts of climate change on hydrologic systems, ecosystems, and society has become more sophisticated – but also more complicated. These systems – both the causal elements of climate change and the impacts on the biosphere – are complex and test the limits of scientific modeling capacity. The choice of a modeling strategy to answer a given question also depends on many factors, including the nature and complexity of the response in question, the available observations with which to explain the phenomena of study, and the intended use of the model output or projections.  In this talk, I focus on some of the approaches required to develop the Climate Impacts Group’s Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment (WACCIA) and emphasize the role of downscaling climate to sub-regional scale and the incorporation of climate change projections in a study of the future impacts of fire on northwest forests. I will briefly explore the role of climate change impacts models in the decision making environment and discuss sources of – and rational solutions to – natural and model-generated uncertainty.

The Speaker:  Dr. Littell is a research scientist with the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group http://cses.washington.edu/cig/ , and is also affiliated with the UWs Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.  He studies the impacts of climate change and climate variability on forest and mountain ecosystem processes, and also collaborate with resource managers to facilitate adaptation to the impacts of climate change and to identify scientific and management challenges.

Slides from Jeremy’s talk are here.

Companion Reading: (Students should be aware that their programs might have additional or different reading and should check the appropriate web site)

  1. Holling, Gunderson, and Ludwig. 2002.  Chapter 1. In quest of a theory of adaptive change. Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems. Island Press.  Ch. 1 is available online through Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=DHcjtSM5TogC&dq=panarchy&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=YF7KSuXOHo_WtgOFg5yiBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  2. Littell et al. 2009.  WACCIA Executive Summary: http://cses.washington.edu/db/pdf/wacciaexecsummary638.pdf .  The full report http://cses.washington.edu/cig/res/ia/waccia.shtml includes articles on modeling climate.
  3. R. Hillborn and M. Mangel. 1997. The Ecological Detective: Confronting models with data. Princeton. Also suggested by Jeremy but not assigned!

[1] This Lecture is sponsored by Evergreen’s PLATO Royalty Fund, established with royalties from computer assisted instruction (CAI) software, written by Evergreen faculty John Aikin Cushing and students in the early 1980’s, for the Control Data PLATO system.