Mapping and modeling land cover change: impacts on terrestrial ecosystems

Part of my research involves evaluating the effect of uncertainties in the prescribed global vegetation distribution maps on predictions of carbon, water and energy-related variables – an aspect of model uncertainty that has mostly been ignored in the past. We found that uncertainty due to vegetation distribution can be of the same order of magnitude as inter-model spread due to parametric and structural uncertainty, therefore we suggested that considered efforts need to be made by both the satellite and modelling communities to derive better maps of vegetation distribution in the future.

We are also investigating the influence of uncertainties in maps of historical land cover change on carbon, water and energy flux simulations – a key topic given that land cover and land use change is the second biggest source of anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

This work is funded by:

  • European Space Agency CCI Land Cover Project: an ESA Climate Change Initiative project aiming to provide new land cover maps for earth system modelers based on a state of the science satellite mapping algorithm.