Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 2315-2328, 2015
http://www.geosci-model-dev.net/8/2315/2015/
doi:10.5194/gmd-8-2315-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Development and technical paper
31 Jul 2015
Plant functional type classification for earth system models: results from the European Space Agency's Land Cover Climate Change Initiative
B. Poulter1,2, N. MacBean1, A. Hartley3, I. Khlystova4, O. Arino5, R. Betts3, S. Bontemps6, M. Boettcher7, C. Brockmann7, P. Defourny6, S. Hagemann4, M. Herold8, G. Kirches7, C. Lamarche6, D. Lederer6, C. Ottlé1, M. Peters7, and P. Peylin1 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE-IPSL (CEA-CNRS-UVSQ), 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
2Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA
3Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
4Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
5ESA-ESRIN, 00044, Frascati, Italy
6Université catholique de Louvain, Earth and Life Institute, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
7Brockmann-Consult GmbH, Max-Planck Str. 2, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
8Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, Wageningen 6708 PB, the Netherlands
Abstract. Global land cover is a key variable in the earth system with feedbacks on climate, biodiversity and natural resources. However, global land cover data sets presently fall short of user needs in providing detailed spatial and thematic information that is consistently mapped over time and easily transferable to the requirements of earth system models. In 2009, the European Space Agency launched the Climate Change Initiative (CCI), with land cover (LC_CCI) as 1 of 13 essential climate variables targeted for research development. The LC_CCI was implemented in three phases: first responding to a survey of user needs; developing a global, moderate-resolution land cover data set for three time periods, or epochs (2000, 2005, and 2010); and the last phase resulting in a user tool for converting land cover to plant functional type equivalents. Here we present the results of the LC_CCI project with a focus on the mapping approach used to convert the United Nations Land Cover Classification System to plant functional types (PFTs). The translation was performed as part of consultative process among map producers and users, and resulted in an open-source conversion tool. A comparison with existing PFT maps used by three earth system modeling teams shows significant differences between the LC_CCI PFT data set and those currently used in earth system models with likely consequences for modeling terrestrial biogeochemistry and land–atmosphere interactions. The main difference between the new LC_CCI product and PFT data sets used currently by three different dynamic global vegetation modeling teams is a reduction in high-latitude grassland cover, a reduction in tropical tree cover and an expansion in temperate forest cover in Europe. The LC_CCI tool is flexible for users to modify land cover to PFT conversions and will evolve as phase 2 of the European Space Agency CCI program continues.

Citation: Poulter, B., MacBean, N., Hartley, A., Khlystova, I., Arino, O., Betts, R., Bontemps, S., Boettcher, M., Brockmann, C., Defourny, P., Hagemann, S., Herold, M., Kirches, G., Lamarche, C., Lederer, D., Ottlé, C., Peters, M., and Peylin, P.: Plant functional type classification for earth system models: results from the European Space Agency's Land Cover Climate Change Initiative, Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 2315-2328, doi:10.5194/gmd-8-2315-2015, 2015.
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Short summary
Land cover is an essential variable in earth system models and determines conditions driving biogeochemical, energy and water exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere. A methodology is presented for mapping plant functional types used in global vegetation models from a updated land cover classification system and open-source conversion tool, resulting from a consultative process among map producers and modelers engaged in the European Space Agency’s Land Cover Climate Change Initiative.
Land cover is an essential variable in earth system models and determines conditions driving...
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