Climate, ecosystems, and planetary futures: The challenge to predict life in Earth system models

Many global change stresses on terrestrial and marine ecosystems affect not only ecosystem services that are essential to humankind, but also the trajectory of future climate by altering energy and mass exchanges with the atmosphere.

Earth system models, which simulate terrestrial and marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles, offer a common framework for ecological research related to climate processes; analyses of vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation; and climate change mitigation. 

They provide an opportunity to move beyond physical descriptors of atmospheric and oceanic states to societally relevant quantities such as wildfire risk, habitat loss, water availability, and crop, fishery, and timber yields. 

To achieve this, the science of climate prediction must be extended to a more multifaceted Earth system prediction that includes the biosphere and its resources.

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