Colorado State University, US

James (Jim) W. Hurrell is the Scott Presidential Chair of Environmental Science and Engineering at Colorado State University. He is a former Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), where he was also a Senior Scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory (CGD). Jim’s research has centered on empirical and modeling studies and diagnostic analyses to better understand climate, climate variability, and climate predictability. He currently serves as the Past President of the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and he is a member of Advisory Panel for the Division of Earth and Life Sciences, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Jim is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, the American Meteorological Society, and the AGU.

Plenary Lecture – Day 3 – Session 5: Imaging and Modeling of the Phytobiomes

The Untapped Potential of Earth System Models


Climate variability and climate change, including changes in extreme weather, are central to human welfare and prosperity, and the functioning of the biosphere in general. Climate change poses risks to many sectors, including agriculture, water, human health, infrastructure, national security, transportation, energy, forests and ecosystems. With the advent of Earth System Models (ESMs), and especially their inclusion of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles, the climate science community’s traditional emphasis on the physical climate has been extended to more multifaceted Earth system prediction, including the biosphere and its resources. ESMs offer an opportunity to move beyond physical descriptors of climate  states to societally-relevant quantities such as habitat loss, water availability, disease spread, wildfire risk, air quality, and crop, fishery, and timber yields. In short, ESMs provide the means not just to assess the potential for future global change stresses, but also to determine the outcome of those stresses on the biosphere. Earth system prediction is required to inform sound policy that maintains a healthy biosphere and provides the food, energy, and fresh water needed for a growing global population without further exacerbating climate change. The untapped potential of ESMs is, accordingly, to bring dispersed ecosystem research related to climate processes, impacts, adaptation and mitigation into a common, integrative framework. In this talk, I will summarize the current state and future directions of Earth system modeling and prediction, with a focus on developments of relevance to the phytobiomes community, and discuss opportunities for collaboration.