Integrated Assessment Modeling

  • James A. EdmondsEmail author
  • Katherine V. Calvin
  • Leon E. Clarke
  • Anthony C. Janetos
  • Son H. Kim
  • Marshall A. Wise
  • Haewon C. McJeon


This entry discusses the role of integrated assessment models (IAMs) in climate change research. IAMs are an interdisciplinary research platform, which constitutes a consistent scientific framework in which the large-scale interactions between human and natural Earth systems can be examined.


Global Warming Potential Bioenergy Crop Integrate Assessment Model Computable General Equilibrium Model Emission Mitigation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Climate policy (greenhouse gas mitigation policy)

A climate policy refers to a policy scheme designed to deliberately limit the magnitude of climate change, often involving mitigation of greenhouse gases. Integrated assessment models (IAMs) represent climate policies in abstract forms. The most commonly modeled climate policy is attaching a universal price on emissions of carbon dioxide (or carbon dioxide equivalent of other greenhouse gases). Such policy represents a universal carbon tax or an economy-wide cap-and-trade policy. Other forms of climate policies, such as differential carbon price by sector or renewable portfolio standards, have also been used in IAMs.

Cost of greenhouse gas mitigation (economic cost)

Integrated assessment models (IAMs) employ varies metrics for estimating the economic cost of mitigation policy. One common approach estimates reduction in GDP, a proxy for slowdown in economic activity due to increased price of energy and agricultural products. Another approach estimates the (gross) loss in social welfare due to a policy by measuring the area under the marginal abatement cost curve. Other metrics include foregone consumption, compensated variation, and equivalent variation.

Integrated assessment model (IAM)

Integrated assessment model (IAM) in climate change research is a model which simulates the interactions of human decision-making about energy systems and land use with biogeochemistry and the natural Earth system. IAMs can be divided into two categories.

Higher resolution IAMs focus on explicitly representing processes and process interactions among human and natural Earth systems.

Highly aggregated IAMs use highly reduced-form representations of the link between human activities, impacts from climate change, and the cost of emissions mitigation.

Integrated earth system model (iESM)

Integrated Earth System Models (iESMs) are a class of models under development by collaboration between integrated assessment modeling community and climate modeling community. By fully integrating the human dimension from an IAM and the natural dimension from a climate model, iESM allows simultaneously estimating human system impacts on climate change and climate change impacts on human systems, as well as examining the effects of feedbacks between the components.

Land use (land-use emissions)

Land use is one of the largest anthropogenic sources of emissions of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and short-lived species. Emissions, as well as sequestration of emissions, may occur from land-use practices, changes in land cover, or changes in forested area or the density. On the other hand, land-use patterns are affected by the changes in the climate. As such, modeling land use has been an important component of the integrated assessment modeling of climate change.

Representative concentration pathways (RCPs)

The Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) are the most recent set of emission scenarios generated by integrated assessment models. Four scenarios explicitly considering emission mitigation efforts that were sufficiently differentiated in terms of radiative forcing at the end of the century were selected from published literature. RCPs are designed to facilitate the interactions with climate models by including geospatially resolved emissions and land-use data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Edmonds
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine V. Calvin
    • 1
  • Leon E. Clarke
    • 1
  • Anthony C. Janetos
    • 1
  • Son H. Kim
    • 1
  • Marshall A. Wise
    • 1
  • Haewon C. McJeon
    • 1
  1. 1.Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI)Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)College ParkUSA

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