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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Jan 2018

Research article | 15 Jan 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Earth system modelling with complex dynamic human societies: the copan:CORE World-Earth modeling framework

Jonathan F. Donges1,2,*, Jobst Heitzig1,*, Wolfram Barfuss1,3, Johannes A. Kassel1,4, Tim Kittel1,3, Jakob J. Kolb1,3, Till Kolster1,3, Finn Müller-Hansen1,3, Ilona M. Otto1, Marc Wiedermann1,3, Kilian B. Zimmerer1,5, and Wolfgang Lucht1,6,7 Jonathan F. Donges et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg A31, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B, 114 19 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Department of Physics, Humboldt University, Newtonstr. 15, D-12489 Berlin, Germany
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • 5Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 226, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
  • 6Department of Geography, Humboldt University, Unter den Linden 6, D-10099 Berlin, Germany
  • 7Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems, Humboldt University, Unter den Linden 6, D-10099 Berlin, Germany
  • *The first two authors share the lead authorship.

Abstract. Possible future trajectories of the Earth system in the Anthropocene are determined by the increasing entanglement of processes operating in the physical, chemical and biological systems of the planet, as well as in human societies, their cultures and economies. Here, we introduce the copan:CORE open source software library that provides a framework for developing, composing and running World-Earth models, i.e., models of social-ecological co-evolution up to planetary scales. It is an object-oriented software package written in Python designed for different user roles. It allows model end users to run parallel simulations with already available and tested models. Furthermore, model composers are enabled to easily implement new models by plugging together a broad range of model components, such as opinion formation on social networks, generic carbon cycle dynamics, or simple vegetation growth. For the sake of a modular structure, each provided component specifies a meaningful yet minimal collection of closely related processes. These processes can be formulated in terms of various process types, such as ordinary differential equations, explicit or implicit functions, as well as steps or events of deterministic or stochastic fashion. In addition to the already included variety of different components in copan:CORE, model developers can extend the framework with additional components that are based on elementary entity types, i.e., grid cells, individuals and social systems, or the fundamental process taxa environment, social metabolism, and culture. To showcase possible usage we present an exemplary World-Earth model that combines a variety of model components and interactions thereof. As the framework allows a simple activation and deactivation of certain components and related processes, users can test for their specific effects on modeling results and evaluate model robustness in a controlled way. Hence, copan:CORE allows developing process-based models of global change and sustainable development in planetary social-ecological systems and thus fosters a better understanding of crucial mechanisms governing the co-evolutionary dynamics between societies and the natural environment. Due to its modular structure, the framework enhances the development and application of stylized models in Earth system science but also climatology, economics, ecology, or sociology, and allows combining them for interdisciplinary studies at the interface between different areas of expertise.

Jonathan F. Donges et al.
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Jonathan F. Donges et al.
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Short summary
We present an open source software library for developing so-called World-Earth models that link physical, chemical and biological processes with social, economic and cultural processes to study the Earth system's future in the Anthropocene. Due to its modular structure, the software allows interdisciplinary studies of global change and sustainable development that combine stylized model components from Earth system science, climatology, economics, ecology, or sociology.
We present an open source software library for developing so-called World-Earth models that link...