Emeritus Professor Will Steffen

Visiting Professor

Professor Will Steffen served on the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC) in 2010-11, and is currently a Climate Commissioner. He is also Co-Director of the Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF) initiative, a joint venture of ANU and the University of Canberra. From 1998 to mid-2004, Steffen served as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, based in Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate and Earth System science, with an emphasis on incorporation of human processes in Earth System modelling and analysis; and on sustainability and climate change, with a focus on urban systems.

Research interests

Climate change, Earth System Science

  • Verburg, P, Dearing, J, Dyke, J et al 2016, 'Methods and approaches to modelling the Anthropocene', Global Environmental Change: Part A - Human and Policy Dimensions, vol. 39, pp. 328-340.
  • Bai, X, van der Leeuw, S, O'Brien, K, F. Berkhout, F. Biermann, E. S. Brondizio, C. Cudennec, J. Dearing, A. Duraiappah, M. Glaser, A. Revkin, W. Steffen, J. Syvitski. et al 2016, 'Plausible and desirable futures in the Anthropocene: A new research agenda', Global Environmental Change. 39: 351-362.
  • Richardson, K & Steffen, W 2015, 'Network of Cooperation Between Science Organizations', in W.S. Bainbridge, M.C. Roco (ed.), Handbook of Science and Technology Convergence, Springer International Publishing AG, Switzerland, pp. 1-11.
  • Zalasiewicz, J, Waters, C, Barnosky, A et al 2015, 'Colonization of the Americas, 'Little Ice Age' climate, and bomb-produced carbon: Their role in defining the Anthropocene', The Anthropocene Review, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 117-127.
  • van den Bergh, J, Folke, C, Polasky, S et al 2015, 'What if solar energy becomes really cheap? A thought experiment on environmental problem shifting', Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, vol. 14, pp. 170-179.
  • Homer-Dixon, T, Walker, B, Biggs, R et al 2015, 'Synchronous failure: the emerging causal architecture of global crisis', Ecology and Society, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 6-6.
  • Zalasiewicz, J, Waters, C, Williams, M et al 2015, 'When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal', Quaternary International, vol. 383, pp. 196-203.
  • Williams, A, Veth, P, Steffen, W et al 2015, 'A continental narrative: Human settlement patterns and Australian climate change over the last 35,000 years', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 123, pp. 91-112.
  • Steffen, W, Richardson, K, Rockstrom, J et al 2015, 'Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet', Science, vol. 347, no. 6223.
  • Steffen, W, Broadgate, W, Deutsch, L et al 2015, 'The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration', The Anthropocene Review, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 81-98.
  • Steffen, W 2014, 'Coping with a chaotic climate in Australia', in Rockström, J., Falkenmark, M., Folke, C., et al (ed.), Water Resilience for Human Prosperity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, pp. 114-115.
  • Steffen, W 2014, 'Managing Australia's environment in the Anthropocene', in Lindenmayer, D., Dovers, S., Morton, S. (ed.), Ten Commitments Revisited: Securing Australia's Future Environment, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Vic, pp. 227-235.
  • Oldfield, F, Barnosky, A, Dearing, J et al 2014, 'The Anthropocene Review: Its significance, implications and the rationale for a new transdisciplinary journal', The Anthropocene Review, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 3-7.
  • Griggs, D, Stafford Smith, M, Rockstrom, J et al 2014, 'An integrated framework for sustainable development goals', Ecology and Society, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 1-24.
  • Mace, G, Reyers, B, Alkemade, R et al 2014, 'Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity', Global Environmental Change: Part A - Human and Policy Dimensions, vol. 28, pp. 289-297.
  • Steffen, W 2014, 'Connecting the problem to the solution', Solutions-for a sustainable and desirable future, vol. 5, no. 4, p. 1.
  • Oldfield, F & Steffen, W 2014, 'Anthropogenic climate change and the nature of Earth System science', The Anthropocene Review, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 70-75.
  • Steffen, W, Grinevald, J, Crutzen, P et al 2011, 'The anthropocene: Conceptual and historical perspectives', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series A, vol. 369, no. 1938, pp. 842-867.
  • Van Kerkhoff, L, Ahmad, I, Pittock, J et al 2011, 'Designing the green climate fund: How to spend $100 billion sensibly', Environment: science and policy for sustainable development, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 18-31.
  • Steffen, W 2010, Himalayan Dreaming: Australian mountaineering in the great ranges of Asia, 1922-1990, ANU ePress, Canberra Australia.
  • Zalasiewicz, J, Williams, M, Steffen, W et al 2010, 'The new world of the Anthropocene', Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 44, no. 7, pp. 2228-2231.
  • Zalasiewicz, J, Williams, M, Steffen, W et al 2010, 'Response to 'The Anthropocene forces us to reconsider adaptationist models of human-environment interactions'', Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 44, no. 16, p. 6008.
  • Steffen, W 2010, 'Observed trends in Earth System behavior', Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: WIREs Climate Change, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 428-449.
  • Chapin, S, Carpenter, S, Kofinas, G et al 2010, 'Ecosystem stewardship: sustainability strategies for a rapidly changing planet', Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 241-249.
  • Steffen, W. (2010) Observed trends in Earth System behavior. In: WIRES (Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews) Climate Change, John Wiley Publishers, DOI: 10.1002/wcc.36
  • Steffen, W., Sims, J., Walcott, J. and Laughlin, G. (2010) Australian agriculture: coping with dangerous climate change. Regional Environmental Change, DOI 10.1007/s10113-010-0178-5
  • Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Steffen, W. and Crutzen, P. (2010). The new world of the Anthropocene. Environmental Science & Technology, doi: 10.1021/es903118j
  • Lindenmayer, D, Steffen, W, Burbidge, A et al 2010, 'Conservation strategies in response to rapid climate change: Australia as a case study', Biological Conservation, vol. 143, no. 7, pp. 1587-1593.
  • Manning, A, Fischer, J, Felton, A et al 2009, 'Landscape Fluidity - a unifying perspective for understanding and adapting to global change', Journal of Biogeography, vol. 36, pp. 193-199.
  • Porfirio, L, Steffen, W, Barrett, D et al 2009, 'The net ecosystem carbon exchange of human-modified environments in the Australian Capital Region', Regional Environmental Change, vol. OnLine, no. 20/1/09, p. 12.
  • Morton, S, Hoegh-Guldberg, O, Lindenmayer, D et al 2009, 'The Big Ecological Questions Inhibiting Effective Environment Management in Australia', Austral Ecology, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 1-9.
  • Steffen, W, Burbridge, A, Hughes, L et al 2009, Australia's Biodiversity and Climate Change, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne Australia.
  • Young, O & Steffen, W 2009, 'The Earth System: Sustaining Planetary Life Support Systems', in FSI Chapin, GP Kofinas, C Folke (ed.), Principles of Ecosystem Stewardship: Resilience-Based Natural Resource Management in a Changing World, Springer, New York, pp. 295-315.
  • Steffen, W 2009, 'Interdisciplinary Research for Managing Ecosystem Services', PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 106, no. 5, pp. 1301-1302.
  • Rockstrom, J, Steffen, W, Noone, K et al 2009, 'A Safe Operating Space for Humanity', Nature, vol. 461, no. 7263, pp. 472-475.
  • Felton, A, Fischer, J, Lindenmayer, D et al 2009, 'Climate change, conservation and management: an assessment of the peer-reviewed scientific journal literature', Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 18, pp. 2243-2253.
  • Werner, P, Steffen, W, Burbidge, A et al 2009, 'Ecological principles underpin a national approach to biodiversity conservation under climate change in Australia', ESA Annual Meeting, Conference Organising Committee, USA.
  • Richardson, K, Steffen, W, Schellnhuber, H et al 2009, Synthesis Report. Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions. Summary of the Copenhagen Climate Change Congress, University of Copenhagen.
  • Steffen, W 2008, 'The future of Australia's environment in the Anthropocene', in D Lindenmayer, S Dovers, M Harriss Olson & S Morton (ed.), Ten commitments: reshaping the lucky country's environment, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria, pp. 143-147.
  • Erickson, D, Oglesby, R, Elliott, S et al 2008, 'Challenges in Earth System Modelling: Approaches and Applications', in A.J. Jakeman, AA Voinov, AE Rizzoli, SH Chen (ed.), Environmental Modelling, Software and Decision Support: State of the art and new perspectives, Elsevier, Amsterdam The Netherlands, pp. 297-306.
  • Steffen, W 2008, 'Working Group 1 report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment - An editorial', Global Environmental Change: Part B - Environmental Hazards, vol. 18, pp. 1-3.
  • Costanza, R, Graumlich, L, Steffen, W et al 2007, 'Sustainability or Collapse: What Can We Learn from Integrating the History of Humans and the Rest of Nature?', AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, vol. 36, no. 7, pp. 522-527.
  • Simmonds, I & Steffen, W 2007, 'CLIMATE CHANGE Response to 'The Stern Review: A Dual Critique-Part 1: The Science'', World Economics, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 1-9.
  • Steffen, W 2007, 'Just Another Environmental Problem?', Current History: a Journal of Contemporary World Affairs, vol. November 2007, pp. 369-375.
  • Canadell, J, Pataki, D, Gifford, R et al 2007, 'Saturation of the terrestrial carbon sink', in Joseph G Canadell, Diane E Pataki, Louis F Pitelka (ed.), Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World, Springer, Germany, pp. 59-74.
  • Fischer, J, Manning, A, Steffen, W et al 2007, 'Mind the sustainability gap', Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 22, no. 12, pp. 621-624.
  • Steffen, W, Crutzen, P & McNeill, J 2007, 'The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature?', AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, vol. 36, no. 8, pp. 614-621.
  • Denman, K, Brasseur, G, Chidthaisong, A et al 2007, 'Couplings Between Changes in the Climate System and Biogeochemistry', in Susan Solomon, Dahe Qin, Martin Manning, M Marquis, K Averyt, M Tignor, et or (ed.), Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Cambridge University Press, United States, pp. 499-588.
  • Robin, Libby & Steffen, W 2007, 'History for the Anthropocene', History Compass , vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 1694-1719.
  • Steffen, W 2006, 'The Arctic in an Earth System Context: From Brake to Accelerator of Change', AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 153-159.
  • Steffen, W 2006, 'Sleeping Giants: Surprises in the Climate and Earth System', in Ralph Chapman, Jonathan Boston, Margot Schwass (ed.), Confronting Climate Change: Critical Issues for New Zealand, Victoria University Press, New Zealand, pp. 103-113.
  • Costanza, R, Graumlich, L & Steffen, W 2006, 'Sustainability or collapse: Lessons from integrating the history of humans and the rest of nature', in Robert Costanza, Lisa Graumlich and Will Steffen (ed.), Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, MIT Press, USA, p. 99.
  • Hibbard, K, Crutzen, P, Lambin, E et al 2006, 'Decadal interactions of humans and the environment. Group Report', in Robert Costanza, Lisa Graumlich and Will Steffen (ed.), Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, MIT Press, USA, pp. 341-375.
  • Steffen, W, Love, G & Whetton, P 2006, 'Approaches to defining dangerous climate change: A southern hemisphere perspective', in HJ Schellnhuber, W Cramer, N Nakicenovic, T Wigley and G Yohe (ed.), Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, pp. 219-225.
  • Andreae, M, Confalonieri, U, McMichael, A et al 2006, 'Global Environmental Change and Human Health', in P J Crutzen (ed.), Interactions Between Global Change and Human Health, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City, pp. 213-29.
  • Costanza, R, Graumlich, L & Steffen, W 2006, 'Sustainability or Collapse: Lessons from Integrating the History of Humans and the Rest of Nature', in Robert Costanza, Lisa Graumlich and Will Steffen (ed.), Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, MIT Press, USA, pp. 3-18.
  • Hibbard, K, Crutzen, P, Lambin, E et al 2006, 'Group Report: Decadal-scale Interactions of Humans and the Environment', in Robert Costanza, Lisa Graumlich and Will Steffen (ed.), Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, MIT Press, USA, pp. 341-378.
  • Steffen, W 2006, 'The Anthropocene, global change and sleeping giants: where on Earth are we going?', Carbon Balance and Management, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. online.
  • Costanza, R, Graumlich, L & Steffen, W, eds, 2006, Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, MIT Press, USA.
  • Steffen, W 2006, Farming Profitably in A changing climate: A risk management approach, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry & AGO.
  • Gordon, L, Steffen, W, Jonsson, B et al 2005, 'Human modification of Global Water Vapor flows from the Land Surface', PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 102, no. 21, pp. 7612-7617.
  • Steffen, W, Sanderson, A, Tyson, P et al, eds, 2004, Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet under pressure, Springer, Germany.
  • Steffen, W, Andreae, M, Bolin, B et al 2004, 'Abrupt Changes: The Archilles heels of the Earth System', Environment: science and policy for sustainable development, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 9-20.
  • Steffen, W, Andreae, M, Bolin, B et al 2004, 'Earth System Dynamics in the Anthropocene', in HJ Schellnhuber, PJ Crutzen, WC Clark, M Claussen, & H Held (ed.), Earth System Analysis for Sustainability, MIT Press, United States, pp. 313-340.
  • Crutzen, P & Steffen, W, eds, 2003, How Long Have We Been in the Anthropocene Era?, 61.
  • Canadell, J, Steffen, W & White, P 2002, 'IGBP/GCTE terrestrial transects: Dynamics of terrestrial transects: Dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems under environmental change', Journal of Vegetation Science, vol. 13, pp. 297-450.
  • Steffen, W 2002, 'IGBP Core Projects', in Ted Munn (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, John Wiley & Sons Inc, UK.
  • Steffen, W 2002, 'The IGBP Terrestrial Transects', in Ted Munn (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, John Wiley & Sons Inc, UK, pp. 351-357pp.
  • Tyson, P, Fuchs, R, Fu, C et al, eds, 2002, Global-Regional Linkages in the Earth System, Springer, New York.
  • Steffen, W, Jager, J, Carson, D et al, eds, 2002, Challenges of a Changing Earth (Proceedings of the Global change Open Science Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 10-13 July 2001), Springer, Germany.
  • Steffen, W 2002, 'Will technology spare the planet?', in Will Steffen, Jill Jager, David J Carson, Clare Bradshaw (ed.), Challenges of a Changing Earth: Proceedings of the Global Change Open Science Conference, Springer, Germany, pp. 189-191.
  • Tyson, P, Steffen, W, Mitra, A et al 2001, 'The Earth System: Regional-global linkages', Regional Environmental Change, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 128-140.
  • Schimel, D, House, J, Hibbard, K et al 2001, 'Recent patterns and mechanisms of carbon exchange by terrestrial ecosystems', Nature, vol. 414, pp. 169-172.
  • Lambin, E, Turner III, B, Geist, H et al 2001, 'The Causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the myths', Global Environmental Change: Part B - Environmental Hazards, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 261-269.