Scenarios and Modeling Team Created to Formulate Food System Scenarios

Posted: December 9, 2013

One of the unique aspects of the EFSNE project is its systems approach, linking production, distribution, and consumption processes in a logical way, while recognizing that changes to one part of the system will affect the whole. Knowing how certain changes — like climate change or a sudden price increase — may affect a regional food system requires the use of modeling. Modeling allows researchers to ask “what if” questions and to explore possible outcomes of different scenarios.

Of course, knowing which questions to ask is as important as the modeling itself. The Scenarios and Modeling Team, or SCEMO, was created last September to begin the work of formulating different food system scenarios and integrating the multiple models being developed across the project.

“When we conceptualized the EFSNE project, we knew we would be doing some scenario modeling, but we didn’t know what scenarios we’d be modeling, and we didn’t have one team assigned to actually come up with scenarios,” explained Christian Peters, who leads the SCEMO group. “We formed SCEMO to address this, and to determine how the models will interact and how we can integrate modeling across the entire project.”

To that end, SCEMO has identified four broad framing questions to guide the project’s modeling efforts, and has chosen apples — one of the food items in the project’s “market basket” — as the focus for initial joint modeling efforts. The team also has drafted scenarios oriented towards the issues of the project, including climate change, land use, and energy.

SCEMO is truly an interdisciplinary group, with members representing the fields of agronomy, architecture, economics, engineering, and food system science. In addition to Peters, current members include Alessandro Bonanno, Patrick Canning, Kate Clancy, Michael Conard, Hamideh Etamadnia, David Fleisher, and Miguel Gomez.

More information about SCEMO’s research activities will be posted here as it becomes available.