Skip to Main Content
Managing uncertainty in climate-driven ecological models to inform adaptation to climate changeAuthor(s): Jeremy S. Littell; Donald McKenzie; Becky K. Kerns; Samuel Cushman; Charles G. Shaw
Source: Ecosphere. 2(9): Article 102.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
Download Publication (2.22 MB)
DescriptionThe impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems are likely to require changes in forest planning and natural resource management. Changes in tree growth, disturbance extent and intensity, and eventually species distributions are expected. In natural resource management and planning, ecosystem models are typically used to provide a "best estimate" about how forests might work in the future and thus guide decision-making. Ecosystem models can be used to develop forest management strategies that anticipate these changes, but limited experience with models and model output is a challenge for managers in thinking about how to address potential effects of climate change. What do decision makers need to know about climate models, ecological models used for impacts assessments, and the uncertainty in model projections in order to use model output in strategies for adaptation to climate change? We present approaches for understanding and reducing the uncertainty associated with modeling the effects of climate change on ecosystems, focusing on multi-model approaches to clarify the strengths and limits of projections and minimize vulnerability to undesirable consequences of climate change. Scientific uncertainties about changes in climate or projections of their impacts on resources do not present fundamental barriers to management and adaptation to climate change. Instead, many of these uncertainties can be controlled by characterizing their effects on models and future projections from those models. There is uncertainty in decision making that does not derive just from the complex interaction of climate and ecosystem models, but in how modeling is integrated with other aspects of the decision environment such as choice of objectives, monitoring, and approach to assessment. Adaptive management provides a hedge against uncertainty, such that climate and ecosystem models can inform decision making.
- Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationLittell, Jeremy S.; McKenzie, Donald; Kerns, Becky K.; Cushman, Samuel; Shaw, Charles G. 2011. Managing uncertainty in climate-driven ecological models to inform adaptation to climate change. Ecosphere. 2(9): Article 102.
Keywordsadaptation, climate change, climate models, decision making under uncertainty, empirical models, landscape models, process models, uncertainty, vegetation models
- Approaches to evaluating climate change impacts on species: A guide to initiating the adaptation planning process
- Using a vegetation model and stakeholder input to assess the climate change vulnerability of tribally important ecosystem services
- Integrating climate change considerations into forest management tools and training
XML: View XML