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Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene (ERA) Integrating non-linear biophysical and social determinants of Earth-system stability for global sustainability through a novel community modelling platform

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ERA (Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene (ERA)Integrating non-linear biophysical and social determinantsof Earth-system stability for global sustainabilitythrough a novel community modelling platform)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-09-30

The ERC-funded project Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene (ERA) tackles the scientific problem that current global modelling still does not deal well with nonlinear processes and abrupt changes – despite much scientific progress in recent decades and despite the very great influence of such models in global sustainability policy-making. ERA is filling this gap, by exploring the biophysical and social determinants of Earth’s long-term stability. It is building up a novel community modelling platform to analyse complex social-ecological behaviour, nonlinearity and abrupt shifts. Social responses to sustainable development are currently also incremental, so ERA also works to inform global sustainability policy processes about resilient responses to Earth's new Anthropocene conditions.

The ERA project is investigating whether interactions, feedbacks and tipping points in the biosphere could tip Earth into a new state, committing societies to global warming over 2C even with efforts to reduce fossil fuel use. It seeks to understand how nonlinear societal transformations that aggregate to the global scale can assure long-term stability of the Earth and keep it in a manageable interglacial state.

In Task 1 – Earth Resilience, researchers are characterising thresholds and nonlinear dynamics of interactions of climate, land biomes (forests and arid lands) and the hydrological system.
In Task 2 – World-Earth Modelling, the global ecosystem model LPJ-mL is the main modelling tool, forming the basis of ERA’s ‘planetary boundaries simulator’ driven by scenarios of social pressure on climate/land/water interactions.
Task 3 explores Social Tipping Points for Sustainability, starting by modelling how the Planetary Boundaries Framework links with the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.
Task 4 is assessing the Holocene-like Safe Operating Space for humanity, taking insights about Earth system tipping points and exploring society’s options for avoiding ‘Hothouse Earth’ conditions and maintaining a Stabilized Earth.
Task 5 will translate these scientific insights about the complexity of our planet into learning experiences that engage many different groups in society - through visualisations, online courses and interactive experiences, and even games.

The overall objectives are to:
- Advance an Earth system modelling-based ‘planetary boundaries simulator’
- Develop the ERA community platform for World-Earth modelling
- Improve the quantifications of planetary boundary levels and map risks of biosphere tipping points for different Earth system trajectories
- Assess the potential of global sustainability transformation through social tipping points for maintaining Earth in a manageable interglacial
- Produce scenarios and Earth resilience indicators for a world within Earth's safe operating space
- Provide timely inputs of science to key EU and international stakeholder platforms for global sustainability policy and business action
- Embed ERA science in society through engagement in young generation platforms

The ERA project is important for wider society because the recognition that global environmental problems are already urgent. Climate change, biodiversity loss, land and water use, and the systemic effects of pollution and perturbed nutrient element flows are interacting in complex ways that may undermine the world's best efforts to achieve sustainability. Global sustainable development goals that only look ahead 10-15 years may not be enough to provide resilience to the world's societies and ecosystems out to 2050 and beyond. ERA's emphasis on new ways to link current understanding of the human World and the biophysical Earth is exploring sustainable pathways into the future, and informing the scientific basis for setting targets for action by decision-makers in business, policy and civil society.
"In the first phase, the full interdisciplinary project team was successfully recruited, and a formal collaborative partnership established between SRC (the Host Institute) and PIK (where the PI is now co-director). Other key institutional links were formed with Australian National University (Anthropocene dynamics); Arizona State University and Utrecht University (coupled/integrated modelling) and Exeter, Princeton and Wageningen Universities (complex systems, Earth system analysis, natural resources). These provide ERA with additional methodological diversity and multi-model capability, enabled through ERA’s program of workshops, research visits and (in the case of Wageningen) a synergistic dual appointment of a researcher.

Three annual project meetings and six other research workshops have been convened, with members of ERA’s scientific advisory group taking part. ERA Science Meetings held in December 2017 and November 2018 provided initial synthesis of biosphere feedbacks in the Anthropocene, feeding into Task 2. The third Science Meeting in March 2019 focused on Tasks 1 and 3, theorizing Earth resilience and advancing the study of interactions among planetary boundaries processes.

Biophysical modelling is advancing with ecoGENIE for analysis of climate interactions with biogeochemical dynamics, the Madingley model for macro ecosystem shifts including land/ocean interactions, LPJ-mL as the main tool for climate/land/water/ecosystem interactions. Various stylized models have also been developed for exploration of specific Earth system interactions. Work on COPAN:core is the main focus for coupled/coevolutionary social-ecological systems modelling.

The research is being internationally disseminated. Team members contributed 7 presentations at the 2019 European Geosciences Union conference and 4 at the Global Land Programme’s OSM 2019 (details listed below). In 2020, the ERA team co-convened an online session at EGU, with over 200 participants, 26 presentations and parallel discussions. 23 peer-reviewed ERA articles and five ERA-related articles have been published so far including in Science and PNAS, together with three other academic publications. The article on Earth System trajectories in the Anthropocene (Steffen, Rockstrom et al 2018) is now a highly-cited paper, with over 425 citations. Six months since publication, the article Climate tipping points - too risky to bet against (Lenton, Rockstrom et al 2019) has already been cited over 20 times in academic publications (WoS). Several other ERA publications are currently in press and in review (listed below).

The main results achieved so far include the preliminary assessment of biophysical tipping points determining Anthropocene stability (Steffen et al 2018), and indications of what societal responses can contribute to maintaining Earth resilience (Steffen, Rockstrom et al 2018, Springmann, Rockstrom et al 2018, Mace et al 2018, Gerten et al, 2020). An article on social tipping points includes results from the first expert elicitation mapping of candidate global transitions (Otto et al., 2020), and another is in review (Bhowmik et al Nature Comms). The first systematic modelled assessment of what it takes to achieve the 17 SDGs within the 9 Planetary Boundaries has been made (Randers et al 2018, Collste et al 2018), presented at the 2018 UN High-Level Political Forum and published as a popular science report.

Earth resilience science insights are being provided to key stakeholder platforms, notably in the context of the new Future Earth-convened Earth Commission, the Science Based Targets Network and the Global Commons Alliance, which engage actively with global sustainable business platforms (notably We Mean Business, WEF, and WBCSD). ERA’s high visibility outreach communications include presentations to world business and policy leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum, recent UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties, the High-Level Political Forum for the 2030 Agenda (with the Club of Rome and The World in 2050), and an invited science-policy-business engagement tour in New Zealand. These events have all led to new opportunities for applying the planetary boundaries framework and Earth Resilience assessment ideas at national and sectoral levels.

ERA publications in press and in review:

- Collste, D., Randers, J., Goluke, U., Stoknes, P.E. CORNELL, S.E. ROCKSTRÖM, J. (2018) The empirical bases for the Earth3 model: Technical notes on the Sustainable Development Goals and Planetary Boundaries. EarthArXiv:
- BHOWMIK, A., McCaffrey, M., Frischmann, C., Gaffney, O., and Ruskey, A. (in review) Powers of 10: A framework to optimise implementation of climate action strategies from individual to global scales. Nature Communications
- Elsler, L.G. Haight Frawley, T., Britten, G.L. Crowder, L.B. DUBOIS, T.C. Gilly, W., Radosavljevic, S., and Schlüter, M. (submitted) Oceanographic changes drive income inequality through critical multi-level links in the Mexican Humboldt squid fishery
- STAAL, A., Tuinenburg, O.A. (in revision) Tracking the global flows of atmospheric moisture. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
- STAAL, A., FETZER, I., WANG-ERLANDSSON, L., Bosmans, J.H.C. Dekker, S.C. van Nes, E.H. ROCKSTRÖM, J. & Tuinenburg, O.A (in revision) Hysteresis of tropical forests in the 21st century, Nature
- De Faria, B.L. STAAL, A., Martin, P.A. Panday, P.K. Castanho, A.D. & Dantas, V.L.
(in revision) Climate change and deforestation boost post-fire grass invasion of Amazonian forests. Global Ecology & Biogeography
- Roth, N., Jaramillo, F., WANG-ERLANDSSON, L., Zamora, D., Palomino-Ángel, S., Cousins, S. (in revision) Inconsistent meanings of ‘wetter’ and ‘drier’ in climate change studies. Nature Communications
- N. Wunderling, J.F. DONGES, J. Kurths, R. Winkelmann, (in revision) Interacting tipping elements increase risk of climate domino effects. Earth System Dynamics Discussion

Research meetings:

- 30 Nov-1 Dec 2017 – Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene: Project Kick-off and Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) Meeting, at SRC (including all post-doctoral team members)
- 15-16 August 2018 – Workshop on planetary boundary for water, at SRC (JR, Wang-Erlandsson, Fetzer and international collaborators; ERA Tasks 2 and 4)
- 19-21 November 2018 - ERA annual science meeting (with SAG members present) and workshop at PIK, Potsdam, Germany
- 10-13 March 2019 – ERA-LOOPS4 workshop, Bad Belzig, Germany. Co-funded with PIK. Attended by all project team members, Anderies, Steffen, and Wageningen/Utrecht collaborators; focused on ERA Tasks 1 and 3.
- 4-5 April 2019 – Ripples in the Anthropocene workshop at SRC (Wang-Erlandsson, Fetzer, Cornell, and international collaborators; focused on ERA Tasks 1 and 4)
- 8 May 2019 – Science of the Future Earth: Seminar with Ubisoft at SRC (DuBois, Wang-Erlandsson, SRC colleagues). Promising early stage collaboration, with potential for additional funding; contribution to Task 5.
- 20 August 2019 - Stockholm Seminar and ERA workshop on data/model comparison for global risks, with keynote Markus Reichstein (MPI Jena and Future Earth Risk KAN)
- 30 September - 2 October 2019 - ERA annual science meeting
- 1 October 2019 - Planetary Boundaries - a Decade on, open conference co-convened with SRC and Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.

Conference contributions (ERA members in CAPS):

- 7-12 April 2019, EGU General Assembly, Vienna:
Session CR1.15/NP1.7/OS1.35 – Climate tipping points, critical thresholds and ecosystem resilience (co-organized, Co-Conveners: Winkelmann, DONGES, Brovkin, . Dijkstra, Lenton)
Session HS7.6 Precipitation variability from drop scale to lot scale and the atmospheric water cycle: feedbacks, management and land-use change” (convened by Gires, van der Ent, Uiljenhoet, Lengfeld, WANG-ERLANDSSON).
- WANG-ERLANDSSON, Gires, van der Ent, Uiljenhoet, Lengfeld: “Precipitation variability from drop scale to lot scale and the atmospheric water cycle: feedbacks, management and land-use change”
- Presentation (PICO): “On tracking moisture during heatwaves – a case of Europe” (Pranindita, Teuling, WANG-ERLANDSSON, FETZER)
- Presentation (PICO): “Exploring agriculturally-relevant hydroclimatic characteristics in the Sahel” (Porkka, WANG-ERLANDSSON, Destouni, Ekman, ROCKSTRÖM, Gordon)
- Presentation (Poster): “Assessing water stress dynamics of the Amazonian rainforest through root zone storage capacity: A time-series approach” (SINGH, FETZER, WANG-ERLANDSSON, van der Ent)
- Presentation (Oral): “Operationalizing the freshwater planetary boundary for local to global water management and sustainability” (Zipper, Gleeson, WANG-ERLANDSSON, Porkka, Jaramillo, Gerten, Piemontese, FETZER, CORNELL, Gordon, ROCKSTRÖM)
- Presentation (Oral): “Incorporating ecological and metabolic dynamics in modelling of ocean carbon cycle feedbacks” (ARMSTRONG MCKAY, CORNELL, FETZER, ROCKSTRÖM)
- Invited Presentation (PICO): ""Forest-rainfall cascades buffer against drought across the Amazon"" (STAAL)

- 24-26 April 2019 Global Land Programme Open Science Meeting, Bern, Switzerland:
Session: “Water on Land” (convened by WANG-ERLANDSSON and Keys)
- Presentation: Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries, Mapping the potential of water harvesting to increase food security at global scale (Piemontese, Castelli; FETZER, Harai, Liniger, Barron, Bresci, Jaramillo)
- Presentation (Oral): “Using life cycle assessment (LCA) to link production and consumption activities to biogeophysical effects of land use” (Bjørn, Sim, King, Keys, WANG-ERLANDSSON, CORNELL, Margni, Bulle)
- Presentation (Oral): “Dry periods amplify rainfall dependence on moisture recycling in the Amazon and Congo forests” (WANG-ERLANDSSON, van der Ent, Keys, FETZER, Taniguchi, Gordon)

- 13-17 May 2019 – participation at the Beijer Young Scholars III workshop on Globalisation and the Biosphere, Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm (WANG-ERLANDSSON)

- 25-28 July 2019, INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research) 2019, Dublin, Ireland - presentation (oral) of joint ERA-Exeter work: “Quantifying climate-induced changes in ecosystem resilience using remote sensing and modelling” (ARMSTRONG MCKAY, Buxton, Boulton, Lenton)

- 29-31 July 2019, Lovelock Centenary: The Future of Global Systems Thinking, Exeter, UK - poster: ”Does ‘ecological memory’ provide a mechanism for ecosystem and Earth system resilience?” (ARMSTRONG MCKAY, Dyke, Lenton); CORNELL, Donges (PIK-ERA), and Winkelmann (PIK-ERA, invited speaker) also attending

- 25-30 August 2019, World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden – Showcase: “Launching a roadmap for a revised freshwater planetary boundary” (WANG-ERLANDSSON, Gerten (PIK-ERA) and others)

- 6 May 2020, EGU General Assembly - EGU-Online/ZOOM
Session ITS3.2/NH10.7 on Tipping Points, Climate Extremes and Earth Resilience, convened by David ARMSTRONG-MCKAY and Felix Riede with Jana Sillmann, Jonathan DONGES, Dorothea Frank, Sarah CORNELL and Ricarda Winkelmann
- “Towards a quantification of the water planetary boundary” WANG-ERLANDSSON, Gleeson, Jaramillo, Zipper, Gerten, TOBIAN, Porkka, Pranindita, van der Ent, Keys, FETZER, Kummu, Chrysafi, STEFFEN, Savenije, Taniguchi, Gordon, CORNELL, STAAL, et. al.
- “Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050 “ Otto and DONGES
- “Interacting tipping elements increase risk of climate domino effects “ Wunderling, DONGES, Kurths and Winkelmann
-”Hysteresis of tropical forests in the 21st century” STAAL, FETZER, WANG-ERLANDSSON, Bosmans, Dekker, van Nes, ROCKSTROM, and Tuinenburg
- “Extreme events and resilience at different scales” Markus Reichstein and RISK-KAN
- “Social tipping as a response to anticipated sea level rise” Wiedermann, Smith, DONGES, Heitzig, and Winkelmann
- “Rootzone storage potential indicates the extent of rainforest resilience” SINGH, van der Ent, Ingo FETZER, and Lan WANG-ERLANDSSON

Invited talks by Johan Rockström, ERA PI:
25 January 2018 – World Economic Forum Davos 2018: Bilateral with ERC president Prof Jean-Pierre Bourguignon (JR)
April 2018 – Hillary Institute and Edmund Hillary Fellowship, New Zealand; several talks, interviews and bilaterals with New Zealand government ministers and officials (JR)
20 June 2018 – Planetary Boundaries and the Sustainable Development Goals: towards a Safe Space for Humanity: lecture in Brussels, high-level conference to EU staff on SDGs and Planetary Boundaries (JR)
22-25 January 2019 – WEF Davos 2019 - Video message transmitted ahead of Davos 2019, Session on The Big Picture on a Hothouse Earth (JR)

Examples of policy influence opportunities:
- Dialogue with the New Zealand Climate Minister James Shaw, which advanced a project to develop a planetary boundary framework for New Zealand (Johan Rockström with PIK colleagues Holger Hoff and Owen Gaffney)
- Invited paper published in FAO journal Unasylva (Ellisson and Wang-Erlandsson)

Examples of wider public communications and media impact:
- WEF Davos 2018: Interview with Johan Rockström about ERA on Swiss national radio
- ""Climate change: How on Earth to draw the boundary lines?"" Interview with Johan Rockström in ERC Newsletter ideas No 1 Spring 2018
- Interview with Johan Rockström in “Extrakt” by Formas, the Swedish government research council for sustainable development,
- Interview with Johan Rockström and press release when receiving the ERA grant,
- Contributions from Armstrong-McKay and Fetzer to article by Henrike Wiemker, 2019, Ausser Atem - Mächtige Molekule, Natur, March Issue,"
"ERA is developing and applying a novel conceptualisation of Earth Resilience at the interface between Earth system science and social-ecological systems resilience, taking robust theoretical foundations from both fields. Developments of methods for characterising Earth resilience and mapping biosphere tipping points have been published and are being taken up for deeper use in the integrated assessment modelling, climate/land/water/ecosystems (""nexus"") and biodiversity research communities. These concepts are informing debates about science-based targets for cities and business actors, to support deep decarbonisation and transformative sustainability decision-making. The first outline scenario narrative for a world future within planetary boundaries ""Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals"" has been designed to guide backcasting integrated assessment model-based scenarios. This has been developed and published through ERA engagement with SDSN/TWI2050 - and was an input to the UN High Level Political Forum for SDGs.

Forthcoming activities

- May-June 2020 - ERA Planetary Boundaries multimedia workshops on Novel Entities and Atmopsheric Aerosols
- 2021 - Nobel Prize Symposium on Global Sustainability, Washington DC (postponed from 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions)
Expected results:
Task 1 Earth system tipping points:
Improved quantification of boundary levels and risks of biosphere tipping points for different Earth system trajectories;
First subglobal mapping of biosphere tipping points, drawing on a comprehensive synthesis of non-linear biosphere dynamics

Task 2 Tipping points in World- Earth Modelling
ERA community platform for World-Earth modelling based on POEM, with a methodology for integrating non-linearity in global modelling.
First attempt to run fully coupled network ERA modelling, investigating if biosphere feedbacks can tip Earth out of a 'manageable interglacial' state

Task 3 Social tipping points for global sustainability
Assessment of disruptive transformations for world pathways to a future Earth within a manageable interglacial
Science-Business-Policy Dialogues on disruptive business transformations, deep decarbonisation and deep transitions

Task 4 Scenarios for a world within Earth's safe operating space
First attempt to test global policy agreements (Paris, Agenda 2030, CBD post-2020 targets) on pathways to sustainable development against Earth system science insights about the dynamic social and biophysical safe operating space.
Science-Policy co-generation of knowledge through continued inputs to the UN High Level Political Forum for SDGs, and the EAT Forum's focus on food, environment and health.

Task 5 Earth resilience - Learning and Games
Synthesis of the state-of-the-art on potential of digital learning/gaming for acceleration of behaviour shifts.
The role of digital games, virtual reality, and digital learning for reconnecting world development to the biosphere"