Socio-technical scales in socio-environmental modeling: Managing a system-of-systems modeling approach


System-of-systems approaches for integrated assessments have become prevalent in recent years. Such approaches integrate a variety of models from different disciplines and modeling paradigms to represent a socio-environmental (or social-ecological) system aiming to holistically inform policy and decision-making processes. Central to the system-of-systems approaches is the representation of systems in a multi-tier framework with nested scales. Current modeling paradigms, however, have disciplinary-specific lineage, leading to inconsistencies in the conceptualization and integration of socio-environmental systems. In this paper, a multidisciplinary team of researchers, from engineering, natural and social sciences, have come together to detail socio-technical practices and challenges that arise in the consideration of scale throughout the socio-environmental modeling process. We identify key paths forward, focused on explicit consideration of scale and uncertainty, strengthening interdisciplinary communication, and improvement of the documentation process. We call for a grand vision (and commensurate funding) for holistic system-of-systems research that engages researchers, stakeholders, and policy makers in a multi-tiered process for the co-creation of knowledge and solutions to major socio-environmental problems.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Takuya Iwanaga, Australian National University
Hsiao-Hsuan Wang
Serena H. Hamilton
Volker Grimm, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Tomasz E. Koralewski
Alejandro Salado
Sondoss Elsawah, University of New South Wales
Saman Razavi, University of Saskatchewan
Jing Yang
Pierre Glynn, U.S. Geographical Survey
Jennifer Badham, Queen's University Belfast
Alexey Voinov, University of Technology Sydney
Min Chen
William E. Grant
Tarla Rai Peterson
Gary Shenk, Chesapeake Bay Program
C. Michael Barton
Tony Jakeman, Australian National University
John C. Little
Environmental Modelling & Software

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