Ecosystem Modeling

relative flammability

Spatial representation of relative flammability produced through summarization of the ALFRESCO model outputs. Learn more about these data

We use computer-generated models of physical and biological interactions to project (not predict) future environmental conditions. Projections describe what may happen to a system under the influence of assumptions such as higher temperatures or increases in wildfire.

Our models are useful for resource managers, community planners, businesses, and other institutions because they provide a way to think about the full extent of likely future environmental conditions. Models describe a range of possible futures that may happen under sets of assumptions known as scenarios. Their validity can be tested, and they provide a useful tool for managing uncertainty when planning for the future. Our modeling process includes:

  • Collaboration  We work with a large network of domestic and international researchers to improve our models and answer questions posed by our collaborators. Our home institution, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the center of Alaska and Arctic expertise.
  • Data development  We locate and develop input datasets, working on 10–100 year horizons and regional to global scales.
  • Iteration  Our computational capacity and flexibility allow us to rapidly process data and respond to collaborators’ needs.
  • Validation  We validate our models with historical observational data.
  • Interpretation  Our skilled staff and network of experts enables us to interpret, explain, and visualize projections of climate, ecosystem, and biophysical outputs.

Major ecosystem modeling efforts

The following models use SNAP climate data. SNAP and collaborators are also designing an Integrated Ecosystem Model that will link these models to help resource managers understand the nature and expected rate of landscape change.