Manfred Fisher, University of Vienna, Austria
Manfred M. Fischer is Professor Ordinarius of Economic Geography at the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna University of Economics and Business), and Adjunct Professor at the University of Vienna. He holds a Dr.rer. nat. degree (1975, summa cum laude) in geography and mathematics from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen- Nuremberg and a Dr.habil. degree (1982) in human geography from the University of Vienna. He is one of the founding editors of the Springer book series on Advances in Spatial Science, and co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Geographical Systems, a journal that bridges the work between regional science, quantitative geography and GIScience.
For about 35 years Manfred has been involved in the development and application of (mathematical and statistical) models, methods and techniques in regional science and related fields, a time period during which he has published 32 books, 110 papers in refereed journals and 115 book chapters and encyclopedia articles. In recognition of his academic achievements, he has been named a fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen.
In relation to the theme of this newsletter, Manfred sees a great challenge for regional scientists to analyse, for example, some of the regional consequences of climate change. In doing so, one has to be aware that the coupled atmosphere- ocean general circulation models – the most powerful tools today for global climate simulation – still run at relatively coarse horizontal spatial resolutions (ca. 300 km). To get regional information from such models one has to rely on some regionalization technique. Such a technique essentially rests on two assumptions, namely, the ability of general atmosphere-ocean circulation models, first, to provide accurate climate features over the region of interest, and, second, to produce reliable “predictions” of the response of broad scale climatic features to changes in external events.
Given these assumptions, the analysis of regional consequences of climate change is characterized by high degrees of uncertainty. Standard approaches to modelling the economics of regional climate change – even those that purport to treat risk by Monte Carlo simulations – very likely fail to account adequately for the implications of large impacts with small probability. Indeed, climate change appears to be a problem characterized by Knight-uncertainty. That is to say, modelling regional impacts of climate change is a monumental exercise in which various subjective probabilities have to be assigned in the course of the analysis. A Bayesian framework appears to be most appropriate to move forward quickly and surely, and creatively enough to realize the potential now before us.
(Published on RSAI Newsletter 2011 June)