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Applications of integrated assessment modeling to climate change



Climate change studies are often interdisciplinary by nature, incorporating many domains of science, economics, and political theory. Integrated assessment (IA) aims to bring diverse scientific, economics and social science expertise together to provide analysis and advice that comprehensively addresses all or at least many aspects of the climate change issue. IA methods have been applied to many areas of climate change providing insights into areas such as optimal timing of emission reductions, weighting of different greenhouse gases, or impacts of biofuel policies. Additionally, IAs have identified key uncertainties that should be priorities of future research, such as the need to understand oceanic heat uptake in order to better constrain climate sensitivity and predict future timing of temperature change. These assessments have also served to establish ongoing communication within the community of researchers, and between researchers and policy makers. In complex scientific issues it is often difficult for policy makers and the public to sort out conflicting scientific views, and an authoritative assessment process can provide consensus views on the issue, accepting that in some cases the “consensus” may be that some aspects of the issue remain unresolved. This review explores the history and applications of these IAs, and identifies avenues for future emphasis. We briefly review the whole field of IAs of climate change, but focus on the role of formal computational frameworks in IA models. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 27–44 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.93

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