NCEAS Product 9767

Boumans, Roelof M.; Costanza, Robert; Farley, Joshua; Wilson, Matthew A.; Rotmans, Jan; Villa, Ferdinando; Portela, Rosimeiry; Grasso, Monica. 2002. Modeling the dynamics of the Integrated Earth System and the Value of Global Ecosystem Services using the GUMBO Model. Ecological Economics. Vol: 41(3). Pages 529-560. (Abstract) (Online version)


A global unified metamodel of the biosphere (GUMBO) was developed to simulate the integrated earth system and assess the dynamics and values of ecosystem services. It is a ‘metamodel’ in that it represents a synthesis and a simplification of several existing dynamic global models in both the natural and social sciences at an intermediate level of complexity. The current version of the model contains 234 state variables, 930 variables total, and 1715 parameters. GUMBO is the first global model to include the dynamic feedbacks among human technology, economic production and welfare, and ecosystem goods and services within the dynamic earth system. GUMBO includes modules to simulate carbon, water, and nutrient fluxes through the Atmosphere, Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, and Biosphere of the global system. Social and economic dynamics are simulated within the Anthroposphere. GUMBO links these five spheres across eleven biomes, which together encompass the entire surface of the planet. The dynamics of eleven major ecosystem goods and services for each of the biomes are simulated and evaluated. Historical calibrations from 1900 to 2000 for 14 key variables for which quantitative time-series data was available produced an average R2 of 0.922. A range of future scenarios representing different assumptions about future technological change, investment strategies and other factors have been simulated. The relative value of ecosystem services in terms of their contribution to supporting both conventional economic production and human well-being more broadly defined were estimated under each scenario, and preliminary conclusions drawn. The value of global ecosystem services was estimated to be about 4.5 times the value of Gross World Product (GWP) in the year 2000 using this approach. The model can be downloaded and run on the average PC to allow users to explore for themselves the complex dynamics of the system and the full range of policy assumptions and scenarios.