Multi-scale, multi-model assessment of projected land allocation

Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 13:40
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Effects of land use and land cover change (LULCC) on climate are generally classified into two scale-dependent processes: biophysical and biogeochemical. An extensive amount of research has been conducted related to the impact of each process under alternative climate change futures. However, these studies are generally focused on the impacts of a single process and fail to bridge the gap between sector-driven scale dependencies and any associated dynamics. Studies have been conducted to better understand the relationship of these processes but their respective scale has not adequately captured overall interdependencies between land surface changes and changes in other human-earth systems (e.g., energy, water, economic, etc.). There has also been considerable uncertainty surrounding land use land cover downscaling approaches due to scale dependencies. Demeter, a land use land cover downscaling and change detection model, was created to address this science gap. Demeter is an open-source model written in Python that downscales zonal land allocation projections to the gridded resolution of a user-selected spatial base layer (e.g., MODIS, NLCD, EIA CCI, etc.). Demeter was designed to be fully extensible to allow for module inheritance and replacement for custom research needs, such as flexible IO design to facilitate the coupling of Earth system models (e.g., the Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME) and the Community Earth System Model (CESM)) to integrated assessment models (e.g., the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM)). In this study, we first assessed the sensitivity of downscaled LULCC scenarios at multiple resolutions from Demeter to its parameters by comparing them to historical LULC change data. “Optimal” values of key parameters for each region were identified and used to downscale GCAM-based future scenarios consistent with those in the Land Use Model Intercomparison Project (LUMIP). Demeter-downscaled land use scenarios were then compared to the default LUMIP scenarios to illustrate the uncertainties in projected LULC as a result of difference in downscaling algorithms. Our results show that such uncertainties could propagate to other components in ACME and CESM and lead to significant differences in simulated water and biogeochemical cycles.

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