On the Importance of Systems Methods and Systems Analysis in Environmental Research


Systems analysis is the label for a bundle of methods to approach complex problems and structure problem solutions. From the very beginning, in informatics, those methods have been applied successfully in different problem domains. In environmental informatics, in addition to those IT-specific procedures, a well-founded analysis of ecosystem processes and human-environment interactions is of similar importance. Since the world modelling efforts by Forrester, Meadows and others, but also the contributions by Frederic Vester, such a close relationship between problems and informatics methods is considered as good practice in a highly complex problem area.

Beside these approaches, nowadays subsumed under the label “general sustainability studies”, problems around climate change, mitigation and climate adaptation, as well as resources studies, e.g. on food security, land use dynamics, and several sector specific endeavors, e.g. on the future of mobility and the future of energy systems, constitute extremely ambitious challenges.

The workshop aims at discussing the state-of-the art of dealing with these problems from a systems perspective and at bringing together scientists that represent different approaches and have different experiences. The objective is not only to present specific projects but also to reflect on the systemic foundations of these projects.

Focus points for the sessions are:

  • Background of Modelling Approaches in Systems Theory
  • Advanced modelling techniques in environmental informatics
  • Approaches for modelling processes in human-environment system
  • System dynamics approaches as tool for inter- and transdisciplinary research
  • System dynamics models in scenario processes

Presentation of research papers:

  • Applying Systems Thinking to Nexus Research by Rüdiger Schaldach, Joseph Alcamo (20 min presentation, 5 min discussion)
  • The Value of Scientific Information on Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty by Shunsuke Mori, Hideo Shiogama (20 min presentation, 5 min discussion)
  • On system representation paradigms, applied to an ecology of nutrition by Karl-Heinz Simon (20 min presentation, 5 min discussion)
  • Salinization Modeling As an Impact of Irrigation System Modernization: From Surface to Drip Irrigation by Ahmed Harb Rabia (20 min presentation, 5 min discussion)
Location: Building G Room 124 Date: Fri, Sep 16, 2016 Time: 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm various-black Karl-Heinz Simon various-black Rüdiger Schaldach