Because the FCE is faced with uncontrollable uncertainty in the future of climate change, water management, and socio-ecological feedbacks, modeling is a key tool for the FCE program for understanding outcomes where drivers are expected to change at all scales. In conjunction with an LTER Network-wide initiative, we will implement a scenario study framework to envision multiple plausible outcomes of alternative changes in a select set of climate and water-use management drivers. In scenario studies, common storylines are adopted, with the degree to which modeling efforts are linked to these storylines helping to define the ways in which the modeling efforts proceed and interact. This approach is well suited to LTER programs, where complex multi-scale research reaches across disciplines and scales, and from academia to society.
We adopt this approach and combine it with bottom-up decision scaling that includes an initial extraction of signals of climate and land-use change from long-term socio-ecological datasets and obtaining stakeholder feedback on the outcomes of climate extremes and water management decisions. This allows sensitive ecosystem attributes and thresholds for undesirable impacts to be identified at the outset, constraining the modeling efforts to drivers and response variables that are likely to provide the most meaningful outcomes. Planning for climate change can then build on an understanding of ways in which ecosystem and societal risks are enhanced or mitigated by ecosystem feedbacks or social infrastructure and influence decisions in a way that facilitates investments that maximize chances for a sustainable future. We will continue exploiting our diverse academic and agency collaborations to utilize more than a decade of FCE research and modeling tools to quantify ecosystem properties for the FCE under a manageable suite of alternative freshwater distribution decisions and climate change scenarios, and focus outreach communications on the implications of these alternative futures not only for a sustainable Everglades but also a sustainable South Florida habitation.