Coupled component modelling for inter- and transdisciplinary climate change impact research: Dimensions of integration and examples of interface design

Publication from Life
Wetter- und Klimarisikomanagement

Strasser U., Vilsmaier U., Prettenthaler F., Marke T., Steiger R., Damm A., Hanzer F., Wilcke R.A.I., Stötter J.

Environmental Modelling & Software 60, 180–187 , 10/2014


In environmental research the importance of interfaces between the traditional knowledge fields in natural and social sciences is increasingly recognized. In coupled component modelling, the process of developing interface designs can support the communicative, social and cognitive integration between representatives of different knowledge fields. The task of integration is thereby not merely an additive procedure but has to be considered as important part of the research process. In our application, the development of a coupled component model facilitated an integrative assessment of the impact of climate change on snow conditions and skiing tourism in a typical Austrian ski resort. We elaborate the integration on two abstraction levels, a theoretical one and an applied one related to the case study. Other than model output, results presented here relate to the inter- and transdisciplinary development of the coupled component model and its interface design. We show how scientists from various disciplines and representatives from diverse societal fields jointly design interface tools. We identify joint model development – taking into consideration the different dimensions of integration – and recursive modelling as keys for successful inter- and transdisciplinary integration. Such integrative interface science can provide new insights which go beyond the sum of what can be learned from its disciplinary components.

Keywords: Climate change impact research; Inter- and transdisciplinary modelling; Joint model development; Recursive modelling; Interface design; Communicative/social/cognitive integration