• NATIONAL BASIC RESEARCH PROGRAM OF CHINA (973 PROGRAM)
  • Project Title: “Integrative Modeling and Strategic Planning for Regional Sustainability under
  •                          Climate Change”
  • Principal Investigator: Jianguo Wu
  • Funding Agency: Ministry of Science and Technology of China
  • Project Period: January 2014 – December 2018

Project Office: Center for Human-Environment System Sustainability (CHESS), Beijing Normal
                        University
                        Director: Chunyang He (hcy@bnu.edu.cn)
                        Staff: Ganlin Huang (ghuang@bnu.edu.cn) and Qingxu Huang                         (huangqingxu@gmail.com)

1.       RESEARCH GOALS
      Climate change and land use/land cover change have resulted in myriad environmental and socioeconomic problems, including prolonged droughts, decreased biodiversity and ecosystem services, and increased risks for disasters. To achieve regional and global sustainability, therefore, it is imperative to develop a mechanistic understanding of the processes and consequences of these global changes, and to produce actionable knowledge for policy making. The essence of the “Orderly Human Activities” (OHA) concept is to ensure sustainable development by actively adapting to climate change via human-land systems design and concerted efforts by scientists, governments, and stakeholders. Inspired by the OHA concept, our project aims to understand the relationship among climate change, ecosystem services, and human well-being, and to explore land systems-based strategies for advancing sustainable development in the Agro-Pastoral Transitional Zone in Northern China (APTZNC) under climate change.
      Our research methodology integrates field observations, remote sensing, and simulation modeling. Several key research questions will be addressed through scenario analysis using spatially realistic coupled human-environment systems models. The outcome of the project is expected to help advance the science and application of landscape sustainability science, particularly in terms of linking climate change, ecosystem services, and human well-being.
      The principal participating institutions of the project include Beijing Normal University, Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Institute of Botany of CAS, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of CAS, and Beijing Forestry University.

2.      KEY RESEARCH QUESTIONS
(1) What is the relationship between climate change and human activities on landscape and regional scales?
      Based on the OHA concept, we will examine how different human activities interact with climate change in the APTZNC. Different climate change scenarios, vis-à-vis land use and institutional changes, will be examined through simulation experiments using regional climate models that are linked with land systems models.
(2) What is the relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being under climate change across the APTZNC?
      Understanding the interrelation between ecosystem services and human well-being is essential to enhance regional sustainability. We will investigate how climate change and land use change together influence ecosystem services and, consequently, human well-being on multiple scales, ranging from the local site to the landscape and the entire region. Indicators of key ecosystem services and major human well-being attributes will be identified, and their quantitative relationships will be established through dynamic modeling and statistical analysis.
(3) How can land systems in the APTZNC be spatially optimized to maintain and improve long-term ecosystem services and human well-being in the face of climate change and socioeconomic changes?
      This research question builds on the first two, and will be addressed through dynamic model-based scenario analysis that simultaneously considers climate change, land use change, ecosystem services, human well-being, and socioeconomic and policy actions. To conduct the scenario analysis, existing and new models of climate change, land use change, and ecosystem services will be coupled in a hierarchical patch dynamic framework, and empirical field-based observations and case studies will be integrated with modeling. Intensive studies in representative sites selected from urban, agricultural, and pastoral areas will be combined with extensive studies on broad scales through a hierarchical “scaling ladder” approach. Different scenarios of both climate change and land systems design will be explored and evaluated.

3.      OVERALL PROJECT DESIGN
      The project consists of three sub-projects that correspond to the three research questions (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Overall structure of the project, with three interactive components (sub-projects)
Sub-project I: Regional climate change and human activities
Improve/localize regional climate system models, and quantify impacts of human activities on regional climate.
Generate possible future climate scenarios for the APTZNC.
Quantify the relationship between climate change and human activities on landscape and regional scales.
Sub-project II: Ecosystem services and human well-being
Quantify ecosystem services and their impacts on human well-being on local, landscape, and regional scales.
Evaluate the effects of changes in climate and land use on ecosystem services and their relationship to human well-being.
Sub-project III: Landscape sustainability paradigms under climate change
Develop an integrative modeling framework based on hierarchical patch dynamics, which couples climate change, land system dynamics, ecosystem services, human well-being, and institutional processes.
Conduct simulation experiments and scenario analysis for alternative future land system designs vis-à-vis changing climate conditions .
Select scenarios of orderly human activities that would spatially optimize land systems, and make policy recommendations for improving the sustainability of the semiarid region in China .

Fig. 2. Integrative framework for coupling models of climate change, land system dynamics, and regional sustainability assessment
4.      RESEARCH TEAM

Sub-project People Title Research Expertise Institution
I. Regional climate change and human activities Qingyun Zhang* Deyong Yu Zhe Han Entao Yu Rui Mao Professor Professor Assistant Professor Assistant Professor Assistant Professor Climatology Landscape ecology Climatology Ecology, Climatology Geography Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Beijing Normal University Institute of Atmospheric Physics, CAS Institute of Atmospheric Physics, CAS Beijing Normal University
II. Ecosystem services and human well-being Chunyang He* Yuhai Wang Wenhui Kuang Lin Zhen Ganlin Huang Yuanyuan Zhao Professor Professor Associate Professor Professor Associate Professor Assistant Professor Geography Economic geography, Regional development Land use/land cover change Natural resources Natural resources, Ecosystem services and human well-being Ecosystem services Beijing Normal University Beijing Normal University Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS Beijing Normal University Beijing Forestry University
III. Landscape sustainability paradigms under climate change Jianguo Wu* Qiong Gao Haiping Tang Huifeng Hu Xia Xu Shuqin Gao Qingxu Huang Zhifeng Liu Professor Professor Professor Associate Professor Associate Professor Assistant Professor Assistant Professor Postdoctoral Researcher Ecology,Sustainability science Ecosystem modeling Ecology Ecology Land use and ecological process modeling Ecology GIS Landscape ecology Arizona State University and Beijing Normal University Beijing Normal University Beijing Normal University Institute of Botany, CAS Beijing Normal University Institute of Botany, CAS Beijing Normal University Beijing Normal University
* denotes the principal investigator of a sub-project.