Earth System Models of the Anthropocene

In order to understand the current and future global impact of humanity on the Earth System it is necessary to fully incorporate these impacts and their potential feedbacks in to Earth System Models. One key aspect of this is to capture the role of the biosphere and the impact of biodiversity loss within the Earth System and how these relate to biogeochemical cycles and future climate change. Modelling how human impacts on  ecosystems affects wider biogeochemical and Earth System Resilience is a key theme in several of my research projects:

Post-Doc 2: Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene (Stockholm Resilience Centre, 2018-present)

I am now working at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) on the Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene project, working on modelling nonlinear biosphere-climate feedbacks in the Earth system as part of the ‘Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene’ (ERA) project, with a particular emphasis on marine-land interactions. A key task of the ERA project is the analysis of the nonlinear biosphere dynamics governing Earth resilience, in order to improve our understanding of tipping points in biophysical systems. This requires modelling of the key interactions and feedbacks between the planetary boundaries, and assessing the potential for tipping points in one boundary to trigger cascading tipping points in other boundaries. Key interactions include marine biosphere feedbacks such as the impact of climate change on the biological pump, feedbacks between land ecosystems (e.g. the Amazon or Boreal forests) and climate via the water cycle; as well as feedbacks on human activities, such as deforestation or climate mitigation projects (such as BECCS). I will use a selection of Earth System Models (ESMs), ESM components (e.g. LPJ vegetation models, Madingley global ecosystem model), and more stylized models to analyse these interactions and their potential for nonlinear dynamics within a socio-ecological framework.

Post-Doc 1.4: Agent-based models for the analysis of early warning signals of ecosystem tipping points (Uni. Southampton, 2017)

In this pilot study project (funded by the ReCoVER Network), we aimed to extend our understanding of ecosystem functioning in lakes undergoing eutrophication, and how it is affected by changes in biodiversity prior to the critical transition to a eutrophic state. As well as developing a new prototype resilience metric based on ecosystem community structure, I helped to develop a prototype Agent-Based Model of diatom community dynamics coupled to a biogeochemical model of lake eutrophication to assess the role of diatoms during the eutrophication process. Work on this is ongoing, and a paper is in progress.