Harmonization of land-use scenarios for the period 1500-2100: 600 years of global gridded annual land-use transitions, wood harvest, and resulting secondary lands


In preparation for the fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international community is developing new advanced Earth System Models (ESMs) to assess the combined effects of human activities (e.g. land use and fossil fuel emissions) on the carbon-climate system. In addition, four Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios of the future (2005–2100) are being provided by four Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) teams to be used as input to the ESMs for future carbon-climate projections (Moss et al. 2010). The diversity of approaches and requirements among IAMs and ESMs for tracking land-use change, along with the dependence of model projections on land-use history, presents a challenge for effectively passing data between these communities and for smoothly transitioning from the historical estimates to future projections. Here, a harmonized set of land-use scenarios are presented that smoothly connects historical reconstructions of land use with future projections, in the format required by ESMs. The land-use harmonization strategy estimates fractional land-use patterns and underlying land-use transitions annually for the time period 1500–2100 at 0.5° × 0.5° resolution. Inputs include new gridded historical maps of crop and pasture data from HYDE 3.1 for 1500–2005, updated estimates of historical national wood harvest and of shifting cultivation, and future information on crop, pasture, and wood harvest from the IAM implementations of the RCPs for the period 2005–2100. The computational method integrates these multiple data sources, while minimizing differences at the transition between the historical reconstruction ending conditions and IAM initial conditions, and working to preserve the future changes depicted by the IAMs at the grid cell level. This study for the first time harmonizes land-use history data together with future scenario information from multiple IAMs into a single consistent, spatially gridded, set of land-use change scenarios for studies of human impacts on the past, present, and future Earth system.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Climactic Change



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© The Author(s) 2011