CSDMS 2017 annual meeting: Modeling Coupled Earth and Human Systems - The Dynamic Duo

Connecting Human and Natural Systems: The Role of Agent-Based Simulations

Jonathan Gilligan

Vanderbilt, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, United States

Human settlements in dynamic environmental settings face the challenges both of managing their own impact on their surroundings and also adapting to change, which may be driven by a combination of local and remote factors, each of which may involve both human and natural forcings. Impacts of and responses to environmental change play out at multiple scales which involve complex nonlinear interactions between individual actors. These interactions can produce emergent results where the outcome at the community scale is not easily predicted from the decisions taken by individuals within the community. Agent-based simulations can be useful tools to explore the dynamics of both the human response to environmental change and the environmental impacts of human activity. Even very simple models can be useful in uncovering potential for unintended consequences of policy actions. Participatory simulations that allow people to interact with a system that includes simulated agents can be useful tools for teaching and communicating about such unintended consequences. I will report on progress on agent-based simulations of environmentally stressed communities in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and preliminary results of using a participatory coupled model of river flooding and agent-based real estate markets to teach about unintended consequences of building flood barriers.

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Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Human Dimensions Focus Research Group