Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Earth Syst. Dynam., 5, 399–408, 2014

Special issue: Intersectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP)

Earth Syst. Dynam., 5, 399–408, 2014
13 Nov 2014
Review | 13 Nov 2014

Climate impact research: beyond patchwork

V. Huber1,2, H. J. Schellnhuber1,3, N. W. Arnell4, K. Frieler1, A. D. Friend5, D. Gerten1, I. Haddeland6, P. Kabat7, H. Lotze-Campen1, W. Lucht1,8, M. Parry9, F. Piontek1, C. Rosenzweig10, J. Schewe1, and L. Warszawski1 V. Huber et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany
  • 2European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), Seville, Spain
  • 3Santa Fe Institute (SFI), New Mexico, USA
  • 4Walker Institute for Climate System Research, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 5Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 6Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Oslo, Norway
  • 7International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
  • 8Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 9Grantham Institute for Climate Change Research, Imperial College London, London, UK
  • 10NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, USA

Abstract. Despite significant progress in climate impact research, the narratives that science can presently piece together of a 2, 3, 4, or 5 °C warmer world remain fragmentary. Here we briefly review past undertakings to characterise comprehensively and quantify climate impacts based on multi-model approaches. We then report on the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a community-driven effort to compare impact models across sectors and scales systematically, and to quantify the uncertainties along the chain from greenhouse gas emissions and climate input data to the modelling of climate impacts themselves. We show how ISI-MIP and similar efforts can substantially advance the science relevant to impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and we outline the steps that need to be taken in order to make the most of the available modelling tools. We discuss pertinent limitations of these methods and how they could be tackled. We argue that it is time to consolidate the current patchwork of impact knowledge through integrated cross-sectoral assessments, and that the climate impact community is now in a favourable position to do so.

Final-revised paper