EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Process taxonomies and copan:CORE modelling framework for studying human-Earth system interaction dynamics in the Anthropocene

Jonathan F. Donges1,2, Jobst Heitzig1, Wolfgang Lucht1,3, Wolfram Barfuss1,4, Sarah E. Cornell2, Johannes Kassel1,5, Tim Kittel1, Jakob J. Kolb1, Till Kolster1, Steven J. Lade2,6, Finn Müller-Hansen1,7, Ilona M. Otto1,8, Maja Schlüter2, Marc Wiedermann1, and Kilian B. Zimmerer1
Jonathan F. Donges et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany (
  • 2Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Department of Geography, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  • 4School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 5Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden, Germany
  • 6Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 7Mercator Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Berlin, Germany
  • 8Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz, Graz, Austria

Analysis of Earth system dynamics in the Anthropocene requires explicitly taking into account the increasing magnitude of processes operating in human societies, their cultures, economies and technosphere and their growing feedback entanglement with those in the physical, chemical and biological systems of the planet. However, current state-of-the-art Earth system models do not represent dynamic human societies and their feedback interactions with the biogeophysical Earth system and macroeconomic integrated assessment models typically do so only with limited scope. This paper (i) proposes design principles for constructing world–Earth models (WEMs) for Earth system analysis of the Anthropocene, i.e., models of social (world)–ecological (Earth) coevolution on up to planetary scales, and (ii) presents the copan:CORE open simulation modeling framework for developing, composing and analyzing such WEMs based on the proposed principles. The framework provides a modular structure to flexibly construct and study WEMs. These can contain biophysical (e.g., carbon cycle dynamics), socio-metabolic or economic (e.g., economic growth or energy system changes), and sociocultural processes (e.g., voting on climate policies or changing social norms) and their feedback interactions, and they are based on elementary entity types, e.g., grid cells and social systems. Thereby, copan:CORE enables the epistemic flexibility needed for contributions towards Earth system analysis of the Anthropocene given the large diversity of competing theories and methodologies used for describing socio-metabolic or economic and sociocultural processes in the Earth system by various fields and schools of thought. To illustrate the capabilities of the framework, we present an exemplary and highly stylized WEM implemented in copan:CORE that illustrates how endogenizing sociocultural processes and feedbacks such as voting on climate policies based on socially learned environmental awareness could fundamentally change macroscopic model outcomes.


Donges, J.F. et al.: Taxonomies for structuring models for World-Earth system analysis of the Anthropocene: subsystems, their interactions and social-ecological feedback loops, Earth Syst. Dynam. Disc., in review (2021), DOI: 10.5194/esd-2018-27.

Donges, J. F. and Heitzig,et al..: Earth system modeling with endogenous and dynamic human societies: the copan:CORE open World–Earth modeling framework, Earth Syst. Dynam., 11, 395–413, 2020.

How to cite: Donges, J. F., Heitzig, J., Lucht, W., Barfuss, W., Cornell, S. E., Kassel, J., Kittel, T., Kolb, J. J., Kolster, T., Lade, S. J., Müller-Hansen, F., Otto, I. M., Schlüter, M., Wiedermann, M., and Zimmerer, K. B.: Process taxonomies and copan:CORE modelling framework for studying human-Earth system interaction dynamics in the Anthropocene, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2337,, 2021.


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