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WIREs Clim Change
Impact Factor: 7.057

The use of the Community Earth System Model in human dimensions climate research and applications

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Earth system models (ESMs) are the primary tool used to understand and project changes to the climate system. ESM projections underpin analyses of human dimensions of the climate issue, yet little is known about how ESMs are used in human dimensions research. Such foundational information is necessary for future critical assessments of ESMs. We review applications of a leading ESM, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Earth System Model (CESM), to human dimensions topics since 2004. We find that this research has grown substantially over this period, twice as fast as CESM research overall. Although many studies have primarily addressed long‐term impacts on physical systems with societal relevance, applications to managed, societal, and ecological systems have grown quickly and now make up more than half of CESM human dimensions work. CESM applications focused nearly equally on global and regional analyses, most often using multimodel ensembles, although the use of single simulations remains prevalent. Downscaling and bias correction of output was infrequent and most common for regional studies. U.S.‐based, university‐affiliated authors primarily drove human dimensions work using CESM, with only 12% of authors based at NCAR. Our findings identify important questions that warrant further investigation, such as reasons for the infrequent use of downscaling and bias correction techniques; motivations to continue to use older model versions after newer model versions have been released; and model development needs for improved human dimensions applications. Additionally, our synthesis provides a baseline and framework that enables continued tracking of CESM and other ESMs. This article is categorized under: Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Evaluating Future Impacts of Climate Change
Share of CESM publications per year by scale of analysis, with numbers of publications in each category labeled on each bar
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Share of CESM publications per year by type of simulations employed, with numbers of publications in each category labeled on each bar
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Number of CESM publications per year by model version (a) and model resolution (b). Results for model and resolution counts include all model versions and resolutions used in all studies, so cumulative totals account for more than the number of papers in our study
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Share of CESM publications per year by primary research area, with numbers of publications in each category labeled on each bar (Adaptation, mitigation, and geoengineering research areas were recorded separately, but results for these three categories were combined for the purposes of reporting this result because of the very small number of papers in each of these categories)
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Papers on human dimensions applications of CESM by primary system and outcome. The area of each rectangle is proportional to the number of papers in that category the total number of papers represented is 338. Table S1 in the Appendix S1 provides a list of absolute values and percentages for each category
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Number (a) and share (b) of CESM publications per year by primary system
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Proportion of human dimensions publications compared to all publications using CESM. This figure does not include proportions for 2014–2016, since the methodology for finding candidate literature for these years is not sufficiently comparable to the methodology for all preceding years
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Trends in human dimensions publications using the Community Earth System Model (CESM) (a) and all publications using CESM for any purpose (b) by year
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Authorship by institution type for all author affiliations for human dimensions publications using CESM (n = 2,148)
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Authorship by geographic area for all author affiliations for human dimensions publications using CESM (n = 2,148)
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Share of CESM publications per year by time horizon of analysis, with numbers of publications in each category labeled on each bar
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Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Evaluating Future Impacts of Climate Change

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