The Joint Global Change Research Institute conducts research to advance fundamental understanding of human and Earth systems and provide decision-relevant information for management of emerging global risks and opportunities.

Research Highlights

  • irrigation-energy-water-520A Global View of Energy Use for Water

    Defining the role that energy plays in acquiring and accessing water will be significant to understand its importance to regions, industries, communities, and the environment. Researchers at PNNL, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, led a first-of-its-kind study to fill a knowledge gap in global energy for water. They quantified its use from 1973 to 2012 with details about water sources, and by market sector, global region, and process-level uses. They found that energy for water has been rapidly increasing across the globe with high consumption in regions of USA, Middle East, China, and India, with the largest share in the municipal sector.

    Liu Y, M Hejazi, P Kyle, SH Kim, E Davies, DG Miralles, AJ Teuling, Y He, and D Niyogi. 2016. “Global and Regional Evaluation of Energy for Water.” Environmental Science & Technology 50(17): 9736-9745. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b01065

  • Forest fire in progressA New Global Fire Model

    An international team of researchers led by the JGCRI developed a new model on vegetation fires that will improve understanding of such fires around the world today. It can also predict their evolution with future changes in the environment and society. As reported in Biogeosciences, HESFIRE (Human-Earth System FIRE) integrates the role of atmospheric changes like humidity, terrestrial factors like the amount of vegetation available to burn, and human interactions with the environment.
    Le Page Y, D Morton, B Bond-Lamberty, JMC Pereira, and G Hurtt. 2015. “HESFIRE: a Global Fire Model to Explore the Role of Anthropogenic and Weather Drivers.” Biogeosciences 12: 887-903. DOI:10.5194/bg-12-887-2015.

  • 4381-04Bridging the ‘Respiration Gap’ between Measurements and Models

    Heterotrophic respiration comprises a relatively uncertain component of the global carbon cycle. A new “Innovative Viewpoints” paper calls on scientists to develop data-driven “decomposition functional types” to improve this.
    Bond-Lamberty B, D Epron, J Harden, ME Harmon, F Hoffman, J Kumar, AD McGuire, R Vargas. 2016. “Estimating heterotrophic respiration at large scales: challenges, approaches, and next steps.” Ecosphere 7(6). DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1380.

  • global-water-balanceBalancing Global Water Availability and Use at the Basin Scale

    Using a unique integrated assessment modeling capability, JGCRI researchers modeled human, resource, and natural water demands and sources, and projected the global demand for water, balanced and limited by water available at major river basin scale. The research demonstrates how water scarcity may lead to changes in global agricultural production. The work also confirms that uncertainties in non-renewable groundwater will play a significant role in determining the global and regional use of water.

    Kim SH, M Hejazi, L Liu, K Calvin, L Clarke, J Edmonds, P Kyle, P Patel, M Wise, and E Davies. 2016. “Balancing Global Water Availability and Use at Basin Scale in an Integrated Assessment Model.” Climatic Change 136:217-231. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-016-1604-6

  • F1-waterdeficitsMitigation Could Exacerbate Water Deficits in U.S.

    While there is evidence that climate warming will contribute to increasing intensity and duration of drought, understanding the overall impact of climate change mitigation on water resources requires accounting for the impact of mitigation-induced changes in water demands from human activities.
    JGCRI and PNNL scientists found that in the U.S., over the course of the 21st century and under one set of consistent socioeconomics, the reductions in water stress from slower rates of climate change resulting from emission mitigation are overwhelmed by the increased water stress from the emissions mitigation itself.
    Hejazi MI, N Voisin, L Liu, LM Bramer, DC Fortin, JE Hathaway, M Huang, P Kyle, LR Leung, H-Y Li, Y Liu, PL Patel, TC Pulsipher, JS Rice, TK Tesfa, CR Vernon, Y Zhou. 2015. “21st Century United States Emissions Mitigation Could Increase Water Stress more than the Climate Change it is Mitigating.” DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1421675112.

  • WaterDemandsElectricity-580Electricity Needs Water: A State-by-State Assessment

    Water is required to produce the electricity that heats homes, powers industry, and yes, dries hair. To understand the increasing water requirements by U.S. electric power producers, JGCRI scientists and collaborators employed a computational model to estimate the state-by-state need through mid-century and beyond.
    Liu L, M Hejazi, P Patel, P Kyle, E Davies, Y Zhou, L Clarke, and J Edmonds. 2014. “Water Demands for Electricity Generation in the U.S.: Modeling Different Scenarios for the Water-Energy Nexus.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 94: 318-334. DOI:10.1016/j.techfore.2014.11.004.

  • New Historical Emissions Trends Estimated with the Community Emissions Data System (CEDS)New Historical Emissions Trends Estimated with the Community Emissions Data System (CEDS)

    A research team led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a data system, the Community Emissions Data System, which has produced a new, robust data set covering the years 1750-2014 for carbonaceous aerosols, chemically reactive gases—which are precursors to aerosol particles—and carbon dioxide.
    Reference: R.M. Hoesly, S.J. Smith, L. Feng, Z. Klimont, G. Janssens-Maenhout, T. Pitkanen, J.J. Seibert, L. Vu, R.J. Andres, R.M. Bolt, T.C. Bond, L. Dawidowski, N. Kholod, J. Kurokawa, M. Li, L. Liu, Z. Lu, M.C.P. Moura, P.R. O’Rourke, Q. Zhang, “Historical (1750–2014) Anthropogenic Emissions of Reactive Gases and Aerosols from the Community Emissions Data System (CEDS).” Geoscientific Model Development 11, 369-408 (2018). [DOI: 10.5194/gmd-11-369-2018]

  • hectorHector: A Simple Climate Model

    Hector v1.0, a simple climate model developed by a team of researchers from JGCRI, was designed to be fully integrated into integrated assessment modeling tools and studies that provide rapid emulation of key climate parameters. Hector can answer fundamental scientific questions such as what future concentrations of greenhouse gases will be and how they will affect the balance of heat that enters and leaves Earth’s atmosphere.
    CA Hartin, P Patel, A Schwarber, RP Link, and BP Bond-Lamberty. 2015. “A Simple Object-Oriented and Open-Source Model for Scientific and Policy Analyses of the Global Climate System – Hector v1.0.” Geoscientific Model Development 8: 939-955. DOI: 10.5194/gmd-8-939-2015.

  • paris-pledges-lgCan Paris Pledges Avert Severe Climate Change?

    JGCRI researchers and colleagues at US EPA, US State Department, University of MD, and IIASA, examined the implication of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), registered for the 2015 Paris Agreement, for the likelihood of long-term climate change, finding that the INDCs in conjunction with post-2030 actions could reduce the likelihood of severe climate change in 2100.
    Fawcett, A., G. Iyer, L. Clarke, J. Edmonds, N. Hultman, H. McJeon, J. Rogelj, R. Schuler, J. Alsalam, G. Asrar, G. Creason, M. Jeong, J. McFarland, A. Mundra, and W. Shi, “Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?” Science 350, no. 6265 (2015): 1168-1169.

  • Tethys Tackles Downscaling Challenge for Regional Water WithdrawalsTethys Tackles Downscaling Challenge for Regional Water Withdrawals

    Researchers developed Tethys to produce monthly, gridded global water withdrawal data products based on estimates from the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), an integrated human-Earth system model. GCAM is often coupled to sectoral models that typically operate at finer scales, and mismatches across time and space can occur. Tethys eliminates such mismatches by using statistical algorithms to downscale global water withdrawal data.
    Reference: X. Li, C.R. Vernon, M.I. Hejazi, R.P. Link, Z. Huang, L. Liu, L. Feng, “Tethys – A Python Package for Spatial and Temporal Downscaling of Global Water Withdrawals.” Journal of Open Research Software 6(1), 9 (2018). [DOI:]

  • PNNL-Led Paper Links Microbes, Warmer Earth to Faster Flow of Soil Carbon Into AtmospherePNNL-Led Paper Links Microbes, Warmer Earth to Faster Flow of Soil Carbon Into Atmosphere

    In a study published August 2 in Nature, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory terrestrial ecology scientist Dr. Ben Bond-Lamberty, researchers show that this process is speeding up as Earth warms and is happening faster than plants are taking in carbon through photosynthesis. The team found that the rate at which microbes are transferring carbon from soil to the atmosphere has increased 1.2 percent over a 25-year time period, from 1990 through 2014.
    For more information, see the PNNL news release, “As temperatures rise, Earth’s soil is ‘breathing’ more heavily.”

  • Reconstruction of Global Gridded Monthly Sectoral Water Withdrawals for 1971-2010 and Analysis of Their Spatiotemporal PatternsReconstruction of Global Gridded Monthly Sectoral Water Withdrawals for 1971-2010 and Analysis of Their Spatiotemporal Patterns

    Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reconstructed a global monthly, gridded (0.5 degree), sectoral water withdrawal data set for the period 1971-2010, that distinguishes six water use sectors: irrigation, domestic, electricity generation (cooling of thermal power plants), livestock, mining, and manufacturing. The gridded data set constitutes the first reconstructed global water withdrawal data product at seasonal and regional resolution that is derived from different models and data sources.
    Reference: Z. Huang, M. Hejazi, X. Li, Q. Tang, C. Vernon, G. Leng, Y. Liu, P. Döll, S. Eisner, D. Gerten, N. Hanasaki, Y. Wada, “Reconstruction of Global Gridded Monthly Sectoral Water Withdrawals for 1971-2010 and Analysis of Their Spatiotemporal Patterns.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 22, 2117-2133 (2018). [DOI: 10.5194/hess-22-2117-2018]

  • Integrating Human System Dynamics Into Earth System Models

    Integrating Human System Dynamics Into Earth System Models

    A review of modeling research on two-way interactions between human and Earth systems sheds light on system interactions and informs directions for future Earth system modeling research.
    Reference: K. Calvin and B. Bond-Lamberty, “Integrated Human-Earth System Modeling-State of the Science and Future Directions.” Environmental Research Letters 13, 063006 (2018). []