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Models, Media, and Arctic Climate Change

Understanding the Interface between Sustainability Policies and Modelling of Climate and Ecosystems

The overall objective of the project is to understand the influence of modeling of climate on policy making for sustainable development, with an emphasis on the Arctic. Understanding anthropogenic climate change rests largely on models. Models have thereby become a crucial condition for sustainability. Yet we understand very little of how this happens. Although models have been shown to play an important role in science-policy communication in other fields of environmental governance, climate models are conspicuously under-researched. In this project, we will study modeling with a regional focus (the Arctic), paying particular attention to the increased interaction of climate modeling of relevance for sustainability, and to the role of local indigenous knowledge. We intend to observe the full social “chain of production” of modeling, from the primary production of data in the field, to the production of models and across to their dissemination and reception in the media and policy.

How do models work? How do they “travel” – from the field to the media, the government office or the corporate board room? How do they go down with public understanding and engagement? How do they function as boundary-ordering devices between science and policy? Who “owns” models, and how are issues of credibility, salience and legitimacy handled? The latter has been shown to be crucial for environmental policy success.

Project leader (KTH): Sverker Sörlin

Participants at the division: Sverker Sörlin, Nina Wormbs, Miyase Christensen and Maria Bohn

Funding agency: Formas, The Swedish Research Council for Environment,

Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Period: 2009–2012