Challenge 4: Predicting and mitigating environmental change

Modelled spatial pattern of gross carbon uptake

Credit: W Cai

Accurate prediction is vital for managing the effects of local, regional and global change. Current models make simplified assumptions about biological diversity and feedbacks between climate and ecosystems, despite these being crucial determinants of future dynamics.  Basic science is needed to understand and quantify these ecological and evolutionary processes, exploiting data from past evolutionary changes in response to changing global environments, conducting long-term field and controlled environment experiments, and incorporating those findings into global models.  The accuracy of model predictions must then be validated against field data.  In turn, managing the impacts of global change requires predictive models of how component species and ecosystems respond and adapt to global change. Quantifying and dealing with inherent uncertainty is a key requirement.