The Global Environmental Change Lab at UC Davis explores the climate change and extreme weather impacts to various sectors of the economy and ecosystem services, including agriculture, terrestrial ecosystem health and wildfires. Our research group applies interdisciplinary approaches to examine the co-evolution of human and natural systems in the face of global environmental change and to build the next generation of tools to explore the dynamics of the energy-water-land system and the interactions among climate, air quality and health.

Climate Change Impacts

CIRA projectWe explore the climate change impacts and risks to a variety of sectors of the economy and ecosystem services. We focus on climate change impact assessments on agriculture and forestry, natural marine and terrestrial ecosystemss, water resources, and air quality and health. We aim to place climate impact assessment in the context of risks and opportunities by examining key uncertainties in both human and Earth systems. Our objective is to identify and understand the role of specific physical drivers of impacts in order to provide key information to support adaptation strategies to limit the effect of climate change and weather extremes on society.

Examples of this research activity can be found in the Climate Change Impacts and Risks Analysis (CIRA) project led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which Prof Monier had major contributions. This project aimed at estimating the benefits of global greenhouse gas mitigation to multiple U.S. sectors. The project produced a peer-reviewed report, entitled "Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action" [pdf], that has been highlighted by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in various media, including CNN.

Climate Change and Extreme Events

IPCC Working Group I

To support the climate impact assessment efforts, we explore the uncertainty in global and regional projections of future climate change and climate extremes. We focus on quantifying the contributions of major sources of uncertainty associated with: human activity relating to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and to land-use change; the response of the global climate system to human activity; regional patterns of climate change; and natural variability and extreme weather events.

Our research also includes investigating the role of large-scale meteorological patterns to improve our understanding of the formation and characteristics of extreme weather events. We further explore how the simulation of large-scale meteorological patterns can provide constraints for the short-term prediction and long-term projection of such events.

Finally, we are interested in understanding the influence of climate change and variability on air quality, using large ensembles of climate/air quality simulations.

Human and Earth systems interactions

IGSM schematicOur research explores novel methods to model the interactions between human and Earth systems, relying on a variety of modeling approaches, including process-based models, empirical/statistical data-driven models and integrated assessment models. Through a better understanding of the dynamics between human and Earth systems interactions, our research group aims to define and evaluate climate adaptation strategies to support decision making. 

An example of this research can be found in a recent article published in Nature Communications (Monier et al., 2018), which proposes a shift toward consistent assessments of multi-sectoral climate impacts by integrating a geospatially resolved physical representation of impacts into a coupled human-Earth system modeling framework.

We are also involved in the Northern Eurasia Future Initiative (NEFIGroisman et al., 2017), an international project currently proposed as a regional component of the ICSU "FUTURE EARTH" Resarch Programme. This project aims to further our understanding of the powerful feedbacks between the Earth and human systems in Northern Eurasia that result from past and current human activities and design science-based strategies with regional decision makers to lead society to prosperity in the face of environmental and institutional challenges. This project is hosting a focus issue in Environmental Research Letters on "Northern Eurasia in the Global Earth and Human Systems: Changes, Interactions, and Sustainable Societal Development".