Neil Edwards

Reader in Earth Systems Science at the Open University

Environment, Earth and Ecosystems, CEPSAR,
The Open University, Walton Hall,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK,
Tel: +44 (0)1908 659358
Fax: +44 (0)1908 655151

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Manifesto; Modelling the Earth System

What is intelligence, if not the ability to understand one's environment, to
create a mental abstraction of it and moreover to predict how it might change?
If the keys to predicting time future are contained in time past, then we must
understand the enigma of ice ages and the interdependence of all the elements of
our environment. Ice, ocean, air, soil and life on land and in the sea, their
chemistry, biology and physics, even the dynamics of society itself must be
included in a model of the complete Earth System. My own fascination is with
mathematical models that are complex enough to represent the principal
interactions and dynamics of all these spheres, yet simple enough to completely
understand. Models that can give answers when asked, not six months later,
models that are fun to play with, models that tell you not just what might
happen, but why.

Most of my current research aims to understand the emergent behaviour of the
Earth system in the past and the resulting societal challenges in the future
using a combination of models of varying complexity. I am particularly involved
with the grid-enabled integrated Earth system (GENIE)
framework model, which grew out of the simplified coupled model C-GOLDSTEIN,
which I developed together with Bob Marsh, based on my own
3-D, global ocean model GOLDSTEIN.