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Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling



Who does Integrated Assessment and how do they do it?

Currently integrated assessments are being carried out by two broad categories of researchers, although as can be expected, the distinction between them can at times be fuzzy. There are those who fit the economic paradigm: i.e., economists who view climate as just another factor input in the economic production system, and those who fit the natural science paradigm: i.e., natural scientists and engineers who tend to focus more on the details of modeling the Earth system.

Both categories of researchers use mathematical modeling as the vehicle for analysis of policy motivated questions. Natural scientists tend to use simulation methods, largely by solving time dependent differential equations to make projections into the future. Economists, on the other hand rely more heavily on optimization or optimal control approaches to find minimum global cost solutions. Because most IA researchers belong to different core disciplines, there is a natural tendency in many IA efforts to tackle different elements of the problem at different levels of detail. Additionally, there is also a strong incentive to adapt pre-existing model frameworks from disciplines to the climate problem. While the above issues are not problematic per se, they do suggest that in some cases the assessments may be more the result of a cobbling together of tools and perspectives from the practitioner's familiar toolbox than the result of a truly catholic approach to producing an integrated model.






Parson, E.A. and K. Fisher-Vanden, Searching for Integrated Assessment: A Preliminary Investigation of Methods, Models, and Projects in the Integrated Assessment of Global Climatic Change. Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). University Center, Mich. 1995.


Suggested Citation

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). 1995. Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling of Climate Change [online]. Palisades, NY: CIESIN. Available at [accessed DATE].



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