U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

State-Level Demographic and Population Downscaling Models

US Population density (projected)
Projected US population density from an
existing spatial population model
(Jones & O'Neill, 2013)
based on a national-level population
projection that does not explicitly account
for internal migration between states.

Demographic dynamics – that is, changes in total population, its age structure, urbanization, and spatial distribution – are key determinants of energy use, water demand, land use, and climate impacts across scales. National population size drives the scale of the US economy and its energy and agricultural systems, while broad scale patterns of population distribution, for example the increasing shares of the population in the South and West, are key factors in shifting demands on regional energy and water systems. Finer-scale patterns of spatial distribution, including preferences for living near coastlines, or sprawling versus more concentrated development of urban and suburban areas, strongly influence exposure to climate-related risks and affect demands on transportation systems and their energy requirements. To facilitate integrated research and planning related to these topics, IM3 is developing a demographic modeling framework that can consistently project US population at multiple scales, from national to state to local levels, in a manner that allows for these dynamics to be linked to energy-economic and impact models, and also allows for feedbacks from socioeconomic and earth system models to affect demographic processes. The model will allow alternative scenarios of fertility, mortality, migration, and spatial development to be easily specified. It will be designed to enable bi-directional links with GCAM and other models for analysis of energy, water and land-related issues, and to incorporate the influence of climate on migration (see climate-migration model below). The model will build on existing work (Jiang and O’Neill, 2015; Jones and O’Neill, 2013, 2016) and will consist of a state-of-the-art population model for the United States defined at the level of 50 states, coupled to a spatial downscaling model that will allocate aggregate state population outcomes across grid cells at a resolution of 1/8 degree. State population outcomes will consist of total population broken down by age, sex, and whether people are defined as urban or rural. Spatial outcomes will consist of total population by grid cell broken down by urban-rural status. 

Point of Contact: Brian O'Neill

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Jiang L, and BC O’Neill. 2015. “Global Urbanization Projections for the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways.” Global Environmental Change. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.03.008.

Jones B, and BC O’Neill. 2013. “Historically Grounded Spatial Population Projections for the Continental United States.” Environmental Research Letters. 8(4). 044021. DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/044021.

Jones, B, and BC O'Neill. 2016. “Spatially explicit global population scenarios consistent with the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways.” Environmental Research Letters. 11(8). 084003. DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084003.

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