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Daisyworld - A Model to Explore the Gaia Hypothesis


A Model/Simulation to explore the Gaia hypothesis and the concepts of albedo and hysteresis through the example of daisies (living organisms) and their interaction with temperature (climatic factor).

Students will configure the distribution of black daisies and white daisies, the albedo for each of these daisy colours, and the solar luminosity, and they will run the simulation. They will observe and discuss the effects of these parameters on the population of each daisy type and on the temperature.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Explain the Gaia hypothesis by using the Daisyworld simulation.
  2. How do human activities such as burning fossil fuels or causing pollution affect the Gaia hypothesis in the Daisyworld model?
  3. If the world has only white daisies, what is the effect on the climate?
  4. If the world has only black daisies, what is the effect on the climate?
  5. After observing the simulation for different parameter configurations, discuss and explain “hysteresis” for the Daisyworld system.
About Tool
Tool Name Daisyworld Model in Netlogo 
Discipline Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Biological Sciences 
Topic(s) in Discipline Earth’s Climate, Planetary Climate, Biosphere, Climate Change Overview, Computer Programming, Mathematical Modelling, Daisyworld, GAIA Hypothesis, Albedo
Climate Topic Climate and the Biosphere, Planetary Energy Balance
Type of tool Model/Simulation
Grade Level Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Novak, M. and Wilensky, U
Hosted at Centre for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling, Northwestern University 
Access Online
Computer Skills Advanced


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