Climate and Land Use Interactions
NASA Land Cover Land Use Program Scientist
University of Maryland
Land Use and the CCSP (CCRI-USGCRP)
• Land Use / Land Cover Change (LULCC) is a
new interdisciplinary element of the CCSP –
developed as part of USGCRP planning and
requiring a combination of physical and social
• Land Use Change is recognized as a major and
immediate form of global environmental change
• Land Use Change Research is of direct societal
• Land Use and Cover Change occurs at a local
scale but with national, regional and global
LULCC and the CCSP (CCRI-USGCRP)
• A national program of basic and applied
research is needed to better understand the
processes and impacts of LU/LC change to
enable projections of land use/land cover, so
that we can determine:
– the impact of current and future LU/LC changes,
– how land use contributes to climate change,
– how climate change will impact land use
– the combined effects of climate and land use change
(multiple stressors) on human and environmental
• To inform land management and planning,
based on scientific understanding
Example Global/Regional Issues
• There are a number of questions which require a better
understanding of land use e.g.
– Are current land use practices sustainable?
– Where is land cover changing and what is the extent?
– How does land use change affect human health?
– How will the growing World population change land cover?
– How will land use change to feed the Worlds growing population?
– How are the Worlds Mega-cities changing and with what impact on
the environment and the quality of life?
– How is land use change impacting regional and global climates?
– How will a changing climate impact land use?
– What is the role land use change on the global carbon cycle?
– How will climate and land use change combine to impact human well
being and environmental quality?
– How are current land use changes impacting biodiversity?
– How are regional changes in land use and cover affecting water
availability and will this fuel regional conflict?
•Large parts of the Pan-
Amazon are being
"deforestation zone” in
Santa Cruz where >60% of
the Bolivian deforestation
is occurring at an
accelerating rate in areas
of tropical deciduous
Agricultural Irrigation Trends
R. Smith, Yale 2 Sept 1990
S. of Turkish Border A S. of Turkish Border B
North of Lake Assad East of Aleppo
Irrigated Area (km2 )
200 5 Sept 2000
Tigris and Euphrates Wetlands Loss
Example National (US) Land Use Issues
• There are national and local questions which require a better
scientific understanding of land use and can benefit from the
rigor of global change science community e.g.
– How are land cover and land use and the associated infrastructures
changing and how will they change in the future?
– What are the societal and environmental impacts of these changes?
– What is the impact of land use change on water quality, water supply
and human health?
– What land use/land cover changes are taking place in the coastal
zone, what are the impacts on nutrient cycling, wetlands loss and
– What land use/land cover changes are taking place at the urban / rural
interface – what are the various impacts and is there a loss of
– Are forested lands increasing or decreasing and what are the impacts
of different forest and fire management practices?
– How have past changes and will future changes in land use and
management practices effect the carbon budget
Land Use and Land Cover Change:
requires interdisciplinary research
• LULCC requires truly ‘interdisciplinary research’ –
combining physical and social science
• LULCC has a strong human dimension – understanding
the human causes and effects of land use change requires
• LULCC regional emphasis – will necessitate development
of approaches for regional research and interactions
• There are critical dependencies from other USGCRP
elements on understanding changes in land use and land
cover (baselines, historic record and projections) e.g. from
carbon and water cycle, atmospheric composition,
ecosystem functioning and services and human welfare
• Achieving the interdisciplinary goals of LULCC requires a
better balance of research across the agencies (physical
and social science, satellite and ground based studies,
monitoring and modeling, theoretical and applied)
• Land cover/land use change is often referred to as the
other global change
• Global and regional distributions and rates of change are
poorly quantified and the causes are poorly understood
• Research is highlighting the impacts of land use change
• The science of land use dynamics has emerged and is
having a major impact on global change research
• Findings from improved monitoring of land cover dynamics
are challenging conventional wisdom
• Dynamic spatially explicit models are needed to permit
realistic projections - incorporating change drivers and
processes, land use interactions, role of institutions,
biophysical feedbacks and climate change
• The last decade of USGCRP initiated the coupling of
climate and vegetation models – the next decade needs to
include land use in the modeling
• Land use is key to addressing societal vulnerability and
resilience and is integral to local and regional policy,
resource management and development issues.
• We need to understand the positive and negative impacts
of land use decisions.
• Better scientific understanding of land cover/land use
change is needed for carbon trading, food supply, water
quality, air quality and for assessing potential impacts of
climate variability – food security, flooding
• Realistic projections of land use change are needed for
water resource and ecosystem management and urban
and regional planning – these projections cannot be made
without an explicit understanding of the land use
processes including socio-economic, demographic factors
and environmental constraints.
Tractability of the Research
• NRC Grand Challenges In Environmental Sciences indicates LULCC
– Newly available databases permit new research e.g. NASA’s global
orthorectified Landsat coverage for 1990’s and 2000 and Moderate
Resolution global land cover, % tree cover, fire distributions
– Recent advances in imagery analysis and geographic information
– Advances in the analysis of spatial data
– Increased inter and multidisciplinary interest in the science of land
• LULCC has an established and well documented international science
plan currently in the implementation stage (IGBP/IHDP LUCC)
• Some LULCC research already underway within individual federal
agencies e.g. NSF, USDA, USGS, EPA, NASA – the research shows
feasibility but needs strengthening to provide a balanced program
Format for the DRAFT Strategic Plan
Documents (developed by multi-agency Working Group)
• Summary Draft Document Completed
• LULCC White Paper under development
Science Theme Outline
• 2 Overarching Questions
• Required Science Expressed as Questions
– State of Knowledge
– Illustrative Research Questions
– Research Needs
– Products and Payoffs
(The Draft Plan is NOT A SCIENCE PLAN and NOT AN
IMPLEMENTATION PLAN )
Land Use and Land Cover Change
• Two Primary Questions
– What processes determine the temporal and spatial distribution of land
cover and land use change at local, regional, and global scales and
how can land use and land cover be projected over time scales of 10-
– How will the dynamics of land use, management, and cover change
affect global environmental changes and regional-scale environmental
and socioeconomic conditions, including economic welfare and human
– Learn from the past – retrospective assessments
– Understand the present – monitoring, mapping, measuring processes
– Model the future – forecasting changes in land use / cover
– Understand Interactions – understanding the impacts of combined land use
and climate change (multiple stressors) and their feedbacks
– Land use in relation to other global change elements – developing strong
linkages between research elements and contributing to integrative modeling
Land Use and Land Cover Change Element
Science Questions: Summary
1. Measurements and Methods: What tools or methods are needed
to allow for better characterization of historic and current land use
and land cover characteristics and dynamics?
2. Processes: What are the primary drivers of land use and land
3. Prediction: What advances are required to allow for the projection
of land use and land cover patterns and characteristics 10-50 years
into the future?
4. Consequences/Impacts: What are the impacts of LULCC and
how can we enable the projection of potential impacts of land cover
and land use change over the next 10 to 50 years on the
environment, social and economic systems, and human health?
5. Combined Impacts: What are the combined effects of climate and
land use and land cover change and what are the potential
Question 1: What tools or methods are needed for
better characterization of land use and land cover
characteristics and dynamics?
a. What are the current patterns and attributes of land use and land cover
at national to global levels that affect the carbon cycle, atmospheric
processes, and ecosystem form and function?
b. What are the national and global rates, patterns, and characteristics of
contemporary land use and land cover change?
c. What are the current hot spots of rapid land use and land cover change
at the national and global levels?
d. What improvements need to be made to current observing systems and
what programs need to be put in place to provide the necessary long
term data and information to support the study of land use and land
cover change at the global, regional and national scale?
e. What are the methodological advances needed to improve large-area
land use and land cover change analyses, including strategies for
integrating ground-based data, socio-economic statistics (e.g., census
information), and remotely sensed measurements?
% TREE COVER DERIVED FROM MODERATE
RESOLUTION REMOTE SENSING
(DeFries et al. UMD)
Impervious Surface / Urban Mapping
Washington DC Area
Red represents high concentrations of
impervious surfaces. Blue represents
moderate concentrations and green
represents low concentrations of
(Goetz et al UMD RESAC)
Question 2: What are the primary drivers of
land use and land cover change?
a. How does the historical development and spread of land uses reveal the
various events and trends that shaped its expansion at different points in
b. Why and how have land use and land management systems (e.g.,
agriculture) spread historically?
c. How have the driving forces of change affected the rates and patterns of
historical and contemporary change at different (i.e., local, regional, and
d. How, and to what extent, do extreme events (e.g., natural hazards,
public health emergencies, and war) affect land use and land cover
e. How will environmental, institutional, political, technological,
demographic, and economic processes determine the temporal and
spatial distribution of land use and land cover over the next 50 years?
A systematic & generalized view of the causative pattern of tropical deforestation
(N = 152 cases)
Source: Geist and Lambin 2001.
Land moves to its Geographical Modifiers to Site Attributes
highest value use Five ‘Simple’ Regional
Distance Decay Accessibility changes
Lag time Legacy of past uses
Sun Belt Movement Environmental movement
What works in one location
may not work in others Policies:
Cultural Attitudes ( Napton et al. SDSU )
Question 3: What advances are required to allow for
the projection of land use and land cover 10-50 years
into the future?
a. What are the research challenges associated with developing a
new generation of land use models resulting from multiple and
potentially interacting agents and causes and that address
environmental and socioeconomic impacts?
b. Given specific climate, demographic, and socioeconomic
projections, what is the current level of skill in projecting
characteristics of land use and land cover change 5, 10, 20, 40,
and 50 years into the future?
Michigan Land Use Projections, 2040
(Skole et al. MSU)
Land Use Change in Michigan, 1980 – 2040
(Millions of Acres)
Class 1980 2040 Change %
Agriculture 11.0 9.1 - 1.9 -17
Built 2.3 6.4 + 4.1 +178
Forestland 18.23 16.9 - 1.3 -8
Other 2.93 2.2 - 0.7 -24
Wetland 1.83 1.37 - 0.2 -10
(Skole et al. MSU)
Decision Making – Spatial Outcomes
Actual Cultivation Change in land-use projected by alternative models
Model Heuristic Linear Model Genetic Program
Test Metric Rank Metric Rank Metric Rank
Kappa Index 0.173 3 0.194 2 0.223 1
Contagion Index (+/- 0.024 3 0.0106 2 0.008 1
Fractal Index (+/-) 0.00149 2 0.0002 1 0.00306 3
Ft (1 = perfect) 0.770 2 0.767 3 0.783 1
MCU (0 = perfect) 0.8772 1 0.9039 2 0.9116 3
(Turner et al. Clark U)
Question 4: How can projections of potential land
cover and land use change over the next 10-50 years
be used in models of impacts on the environment,
social and economic systems, and human health?
a. How will acute land use change stress or enhance the productivity
of our natural resource base and the industries that depend on it,
including agriculture and forestry?
b. How will changes in urban and rural land use and land cover
influence the spatial and temporal distribution of wildlife and what
are the resulting economic, social, and ecological impacts?
c. How will the form and use of public lands change given different
climate change scenarios, and how will those changes affect the
management of the vital economic and ecological resources of
1992) as a
Jones et al.
Question 5: What are the combined effects of climate
and land use and land cover change and what are the
a. How will the combined effects of land use and climate change affect
agriculture, rangeland, forests, and aquatic ecosystems extent and
productivity, and what are the implications for land management
b. How does the combined stress of climate and land use change
affect our ability to mitigate and manage greenhouse gases?
c. What are the impacts of future changes in land use and land cover
on water supply and quality, considering climate-induced changes in
the patterns and characteristics of water resources?
d. Using focused case studies, how can landholders, land managers,
and decision makers formulate land use and land management
decisions and practices at various scales in light of climate change?
Integration Aspects – examples of required
linkages across CCSP Elements
• Land Use and Carbon Cycle e.g
– land use and carbon sources and sinks
– land use and carbon sequestration management
• Land Use and Water Cycle e.g.
– land use and water quality
– land use and water access and consumption
• Land Use and Ecosystems e.g.
– land use and ecosystem fragmentation and biodiversity
– land use and ecosystem disturbance
• Land Use and Atmospheric Chemistry e.g.
– land use emissions – gases and particulates
• Land Use and Climate Variability
– impact of extreme events on land use / cover
– impact of climate change on land use/cover distribution
Suggested approach to proceed through a series of prioritized and
thematic joint element workshops to address targeted integrative
Next Steps for LULCC
• Revision of Draft Based on Comments and
Review – (suggestions welcomed)
• Development of a Science and
Implementation Plan – Summer ‘03
– Workshop for Scientists and Stakeholders
– Review and Comment Process
• Targeted Joint Thematic Workshops with
other Elements (roles and responsibilities)
• Coordination of LULCC for Agency FY 05