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Publication Date
1 November 2016

What Are the Effects of Agro-Ecological Zones and Land Use Region Boundaries on Land Resource Projection Using the Global Change Assessment Model?



Understanding potential impacts of climate change is complicated by spatially mismatched land representations between gridded datasets and models, and land use models with larger regions defined by geopolitical and/or biophysical criteria. Here we quantify the sensitivity of Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) outputs to the delineation of Agro-Ecological Zones (AEZs), which are normally based on historical (1961–1990) climate. We reconstruct GCAM's land regions using projected (2071–2100) climate, and find large differences in estimated future land use that correspond with differences in agricultural commodity prices and production volumes. Importantly, historically delineated AEZs experience spatially heterogeneous climate impacts over time, and do not necessarily provide more homogenous initial land productivity than projected AEZs. We conclude that non-climatic criteria for land use region delineation are likely preferable for modeling land use change in the context of climate change, and that uncertainty associated with land delineation needs to be quantified.

“What Are The Effects Of Agro-Ecological Zones And Land Use Region Boundaries On Land Resource Projection Using The Global Change Assessment Model?”. 2016. Environmental Modelling & Software 85: 246-265. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.08.016.
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