Corinne Hartin, Robert Link, Pralit Patel, Anupriya Mundra, Russell Horowitz, Kalyn Dorheim and Leon Clarke
Typically in human-earth system modeling studies, feedbacks between the earth and human systems are analyzed by passing information between independent models. The reliance on existing Earth System Model outputs limits the ability to explore feedbacks under arbitrary scenarios and equally important limits the ability to explore large-scale uncertainty in these interactions. In this study we explore a wide range of climate uncertainties and incorporate the implications of increased cooling hydrofluorocarbons emissions. We implement a statistical relationship between global mean temperature change and heating and cooling degree days that allows us to produce changes in building energy demands within GCAM at every time step and every region. While there is a general agreement in the literature that increasing temperatures will increase cooling energy demands and decrease heating energy demands, there has been no fully-coupled analysis of this dynamic that would, for example, account for the feedbacks on hydrofluorocarbons from increased cooling demands. The variation in the spatial distribution of temperatures leads to substantial variation in the change in cooling and heating energy across regions, with regions like USA, India and Sub-Saharan Africa experiencing a factor of two difference in cooling demands. While the feedbacks between building energy demand and global mean temperature are modest by themselves, this study prompts future research on coupled human-earth system feedbacks, in particular in regards to land, water, and other energy infrastructure.