Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Methods and approaches to modelling the Anthropocene
Show others and affiliations
Number of Authors: 7
2016 (English)In: Global Environmental Change, ISSN 0959-3780, E-ISSN 1872-9495, Vol. 39, 328-340 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The 'Anthropocene' concept provides a conceptual framework that encapsulates the current global situation in which society has an ever-greater dominating influence on Earth System functioning. Simulation models used to understand earth system dynamics provide early warning, scenario analysis and evaluation of environmental management and policies. This paper aims to assess the extent to which current models represent the Anthropocene and suggest ways forward. Current models do not fully reflect the typical characteristics of the Anthropocene, such as societal influences and interactions with natural processes, feedbacks and system dynamics, tele-connections, tipping points, thresholds and regime shifts. Based on an analysis of current model representations of Anthropocene dynamics, we identify ways to enhance the role of modeling tools to better help us understand Anthropocene dynamics and address sustainability issues arising from them. To explore sustainable futures ('safe and operating spaces'), social processes and anthropogenic drivers of biophysical processes must be incorporated, to allow for a spectrum of potential impacts and responses at different societal levels. In this context, model development can play a major role in reconciling the different epistemologies of the disciplines that need to collaborate to capture changes in the functioning of socio-ecological systems. Feedbacks between system functioning and underlying endogenous drivers should be represented, rather than assuming the drivers to be exogenous to the modelled system or stationary in time and space. While global scale assessments are important, the global scale dynamics need to be connected to local realities and vice versa. The diversity of stakeholders and potential questions requires a diversification of models, avoiding the convergence towards single models that are able to answer a wide range of questions, but without sufficient specificity. The novel concept of the Anthropocene can help to develop innovative model representations and model architectures that are better suited to assist in designing sustainable solutions targeted at the users of the models and model results.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 39, 328-340 p.
Keyword [en]
Complex system models, Simulation, Scenarios, Feedbacks, Emergence, Socio-ecological systems
National Category
Social and Economic Geography Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134301DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.08.007ISI: 000381165100031OAI: diva2:1015930
Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-03 Last updated: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Steffen, Will
By organisation
Stockholm Resilience Centre
In the same journal
Global Environmental Change
Social and Economic GeographyEnvironmental Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link