Discussion Series: Human and Earth Systems Interlinkages

Discussion Series: Human and Earth Systems Interlinkages

Discussion Series: Human and Earth Systems Interlinkages

Location: Virtual
Dates: 7 April 2022, 16:30 CEST

Join AIMES, the Earth Commission, Future Earth, and WCRP Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity in a discussion series to advance knowledge on tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system.

Whilst previous events have focused on the Earth system alone, this webinar with world-leading researchers will explore the interlinkages between tipping elements in Earth and human systems. Speakers will present historic and contemporary examples of how Earth system tipping elements affect societies and the people within them.

Moderator: Prof. Gabi Hegerl, Climate System Science, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh


  • The Dust Bowl: Enduring socio-economic impacts of an environmental catastrophe – Richard Hornbeck, V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Earth System Change and Tipping: The Case of Small Island Developing States – Michelle Mycoo, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, The University of the West Indies
  • Q&A and Discussion

Note: Zoom link joining instructions will be sent out a few days in advance
of the event. If you register on the day, joining instructions will be sent with your registration confirmation.


Speaker Information

Prof. Richard Hornbeck 
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Richard Hornbeck is the V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Rick is an economic historian and applied-micro economist, whose research focuses on the historical development of the American economy. He views history as informing why some places and some people have become wealthier, while others have remained poorer, which can provide perspective on what factors might drive widespread improvements in living standards. His published research includes articles in the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Journal of Political Economy. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, affiliated with programs on the Development of the American Economy, Development Economics, and Environmental and Energy Economics.

Prior to joining Chicago Booth in 2015, Rick was the Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History in the Economics Department at Harvard University. He received an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2014 and was selected for the 2009 Review of Economic Studies Tour. He received a PhD in economics from MIT in 2009 and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 2004.


Prof. Michelle Mycoo 
Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, The University of the West Indies
Michelle Mycoo is the Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management.  She holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning (McGill University 1996), a M.Sc. in Urban Planning (University of Hong Kong 1988) and a B.A. in Geography  and Social Sciences (The University of the West Indies, Mona, 1985). Professor Mycoo is the recipient of three international scholarships: A Commonwealth Scholarship, Canadian International Development Agency Fellowship and a US Fulbright Fellowship. She received The University of  the West Indies/ Guardian Group Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014 and the same year was awarded The University of the West Indies/ National Gas Company Research Award for the Most Outstanding Researcher  in the Faculty of Engineering. In 2008, Michelle was also recognized by The University of the West Indies as one of 60 lecturers under the age of 60 for excellence in teaching, service and research.

Professor Mycoo is a Coordinating Lead Author for the Small Islands  Chapter 15 of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II Sixth Assessment Report on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation published in spring 2022. Since 2011, she has written 16 publications which address the complex challenges of climate change and offer insights into adaptation and resilience in the context of small islands.
Professor Mycoo’s work focuses on strengthening the interface between  science, policy and practice in alignment with optimum land use, infrastructure provision and environmental management in support of sustainable human settlements.

Garmisch Summer School on Land Use and Ecosystem Change

Garmisch Summer School on Land Use and Ecosystem Change

Garmisch Summer School on Land Use and Ecosystem Change

16-23 August 2022, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will run an international Summer School at its ‘Campus Alpin’ in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Germany, on the topic of land use and ecosystem change during August 2022. The summer school will introduce students to a wide range of issues related to land use change, socio-ecological systems, and ecosystem functioning by covering:

  • Different aspects of land use change processes across geographic scales in response to past, present and future drivers of change.
  • Both the biophysical and human processes and concepts needed to understand the broader issues
    within socio-ecological systems.

The summer school will include a mix of webinars, group and individual exercises and student presentations. The course is open to students currently studying for an MSc or PhD degree with backgrounds in environmental sciences, geography, environmental economics, geo-ecology, meteorology and ecology. There is a maximum of 35 student places available in 2022.

Applications are open until Friday 27 May 2022. Please send your CV and a letter of motivation (limited to one page) in one PDF document, signed by your supervisor, to: sylvia.kratz@kit.edu.

AIMES Member Research Feature: Xin Zhao

AIMES Member Featured Research: Xin Zhao

Global agricultural responses to interannual climate and biophysical variability

Xin Zhao, Katherine V Calvin, Marshall A Wise, Pralit L Patel, Abigail C Snyder, Stephanie T Waldhoff, Mohamad I Hejazi and James A Edmonds

Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 5825 University Research Court, College Park, MD, 20740, United States of America

Abstract: Most studies assessing climate impacts on agriculture have focused on average changes in market-mediated responses (e.g. changes in land use, production, and consumption). However, the response of global agricultural markets to interannual variability (IAV) in climate and biophysical shocks is poorly understood and not well represented in global economic models. Here we show a strong transmission of IAVs in climate-induced biophysical yield shocks to agriculture markets, which is further magnified by endogenous market fluctuations generated due to producers’ imperfect expectations of market and weather conditions. We demonstrate that the volatility of crop prices and consumption could be significantly underestimated (i.e. on average by 55% and 41%, respectively) by assuming perfect foresight, a standard assumption in the economic equilibrium modeling, compared with the relatively more realistic adaptive expectations. We also find heterogeneity in IAV across crops and regions, which is considerably mediated by international trade. Studying IAV provides fundamentally new insights on measuring and understanding climate impacts on global agriculture, and our framework lays the foundation for further investigating the full range of climate impacts on biophysical and human systems.

Read the full article here >>

AIMES Member Research Feature: Dolors Armenteras

AIMES Member Featured Research: Dolors Armenteras

Fire-induced loss of the world’s most biodiverse forests in Latin America

Dolors Armenteras1*, Liliana M. Dávalos2,3, Joan S. Barreto1, Alejandro Miranda4,5, Angela Hernández-Moreno6, Carlos Zamorano-Elgueta4,7, Tania M. González-Delgado1, María C. Meza-Elizalde1, Javier Retana8

1Laboratorio de Ecología del Paisaje y Modelación de Ecosistemas ECOLMOD, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Bogotá, Bogotá, Colombia.

2Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, 630 Life Sciences Building, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.

3Consortium for Inter-Disciplinary Environmental Research, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, 129 Dana Hall, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.

4Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR2), Santiago, Chile.

5Laboratorio de Ecología del Paisaje y Conservación, Departamento de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de La Frontera, Temco, Chile.

6Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia (CIEP), Camino Baguales s/n Km 4, Coyhaique, Chile.

7Departamento de Ciencias Naturales y Tecnología, Universidad de Aysén, Coyhaique, Chile.

8CREAF- Universitat Autonoma Barcelona, 08193, Cerdanyola del Valles, Barcelona, Spain

Fire plays a dominant role in deforestation, particularly in the tropics, but the relative extent of transformations and influence of fire frequency on eventual forest loss remain unclear. Here, we analyze the frequency of fire and its influence on postfire forest trajectories between 2001 and 2018. We account for ~1.1% of Latin American forests burnt in 2002–2003 (8,465,850 ha). Although 40.1% of forests (3,393,250 ha) burned only once, by 2018, ~48% of the evergreen forests converted to other, primarily grass-dominated uses. While greater fire frequency yielded more transformation, our results reveal the staggering impact of even a single fire. Increasing fire frequency imposes greater risks of irreversible forest loss, transforming forests into ecosystems increasingly vulnerable to degradation. Reversing this trend is indispensable to both mitigate and adapt to climate change globally. As climate change transforms fire regimes across the region, key actions are needed to conserve Latin American forests.

Read the full article here >>

AIMES Thanks Scientists for Their Service

AIMES Thanks Scientists for Their Service

The AIMES scientific steering committee is comprised of volunteer scientists who go above and beyond their professional demands to help guide and build the AIMES international scientific program and network. We want to thank three of our steering committee members for their service-minded dedication, scientific vision, and commitment of time and energy over the course of their terms in AIMES. Victor Brovkin (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany), Lisa Alexander (University of New South Wales, Australia), and Govindasamy Bala (Indian Institute of Science, India) completed their final year of their terms in 2021. Below we highlight their research and contributions to the AIMES project!

Prof. Lisa Alexander, Professor at the Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, Australia, served two terms as an AIMES SSC member. She made important contributions to the AIMES science plan and implementation plan and encouraged the inclusion of early career researchers in AIMES activities. Her research focuses primarily on understanding the variability and driving mechanisms of climate extremes, including how land surface changes or preconditioning might act to dampen or exacerbate heatwaves. Of particular significance is her ongoing work assessing global changes in temperature and rainfall extremes, which has contributed significantly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments. 

Prof. Govindasamy Bala, Professor at the Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, served two terms as an AIMES SSC member. Bala provided support and input in the new organization and scientific direction of AIMES and liaised with Future Earth as a working group leader within the Earth Commission. He is helping to organize a webinar series on ‘Tipping Elements, Irreversibility, and Abrupt Change’ and is co-leading the Tipping Point Model Intercomparison Project (TIPMIP). In his research, Prof. Bala develops and uses Earth system models to understand the causes and effects of climate change, and served as a Lead Author of the fourth chapter of Future global climate: scenario-based projections and near-term information for the 6th assessment IPCC report. 

Prof. Victor Brovkin is head of a group on Climate-Biogeosphere Interactions at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology and professor at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He served two terms as an AIMES SSC member and four years as the AIMES co-chair. Prof. Brovkin has been integral to many of the AIMES activities over the last four years including hosting SSC meetings, developing workshops, and leading the Nature Geoscience review on ‘Past abrupt changes, tipping points and cascading impacts in the Earth system.’ His research is focused on interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and the climate, including biogeophysical and biogeochemical feedbacks. Victor Brovkin has developed global dynamic vegetation models and applied them for pioneering studies on the stability of climate-vegetation systems.

We thank Lisa, Bala and Victor for their vision and for being fantastic colleagues to work with on the steering committee! 

Call for Abstracts: New Directions in Land Data Assimilation Virtual Workshop

Call for Abstracts: New Directions in Land Data Assimilation Virtual Workshop

Submit Abstracts for: 

New Directions in Land Data Assimilation

2nd Annual Land Data Assimilation Community Virtual Workshop

13-15 June 2022 | 10:00-13:00 EDT // 16:00-19:00 CEST

The AIMES Land Data Assimilation Working Group will hold its 2nd annual workshop ‘New Directions in Land Data Assimilation’ on 13-15 June 2022 from 10:00 – 13:00 EDTThe goals of the workshop build on the principles of the working group to: (1) foster knowledge exchange across all groups working in land DA and (2) build a community of practice and collaboration in land DA, particularly for addressing the technical challenges we face in implementing DA systems. The themes of the workshop were identified by the land DA community during the 2021 meeting on Tackling Technical Challenges in Land DA and through feedback from a post-workshop survey.

We now invite abstract submissions for oral or poster presentations that address one of the following main themes: 

(1) Machine Learning in Land DA
(2) Observation and Model Uncertainty
(3) Ensemble DA methods
(4) Crossover in Land DA challenges between Numerical Weather Prediction and Land Surface Modeling communities

We are seeking abstracts that put greater weight on addressing the technical challenges associated with developing land DA systems than answering the scientific questions that lie behind those technical developments, which is typically the focus of other professional meetings and conferences. Oral presentations will prioritize the themes identified above. However, we will also consider abstracts that address important topics beyond the designated themes.

We are looking forward to continuing to build the land DA community and to seeing your abstracts! The deadline to submit your abstract is Friday, March 4, 2022. Email aimes@futureearth.org with any questions.