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UNEP-WCMC does not assert any intellectual property rights in the data made available to it by data providers. 

Access to UNEP-WCMC datasets is provided on the understanding that you read and consent to be bound by the Terms and Conditions set out in the policies below.

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Amy Milam

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Global biosphere modelling

The growing human population with increasing resource use per capita is causing an alarming loss and degradation of ecosystems. In order to balance the increasing human needs for food and resources with the healthy functioning of ecosystems, decision makers require robust and transparent global forecasts of the response of ecosystems to future changes in human activities.

Working jointly with the Computational Ecology and Ecosystem Science group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC's Science Unit is developing a global biosphere model that captures the ecological processes shaping biological communities. The vision is to develop a model that is:

  • Terrestrial and marine
  • Global in scope
  • Spatially explicit
  • Classify organisms by ecological function, not by taxonomy
  • Include a balanced consideration of all trophic levels
  • Explicitly process-based
  • Incorporate human interactions with ecosystems
  • Transparent, robust, open, and reproducible
  • Freely available
  • Outputs useful and effective for decision making purposes.

As such the model has more in common with state-of-the-art physical models of the earth system than with previous models of the biosphere.

Since 2010, a team of three post-doctoral researchers began developing the global biosphere model, kick started in January with a workshop that brought together world experts on ecological modelling. 

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