Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 861–877 | Cite as

Uncertainties in global-scale reconstructions of historical land use: an illustration using the HYDE data set

Research Article

Abstract

Land use and land-use change play an important role in global integrated assessments. However, there are still many uncertainties in the role of current and historical land use in the global carbon cycle as well as in other dimensions of global environmental change. Although databases of historical land use are frequently used in integrated assessments and climate studies, they are subject to considerable uncertainties that often are ignored. This paper examines a number of the most important uncertainties related to the process of reconstructing historical land use. We discuss the origins of different types of uncertainty and the sensitivity of land-use reconstructions to these uncertainties. The results indicate that uncertainties not only arise as result of the large temporal and spatial variation in historical population data, but also relate to assumptions on the relationship between population and land use used in the reconstructions. Improving empirical data to better specify and validate the assumptions about the relationship between population and land use, while accounting for the spatial and temporal variation, could reduce uncertainties in the reconstructions. Such empirical evidence could be derived from local case studies, such as those conducted in landscape ecology, environmental history, archeology and paleoecology.

Keywords

Historic land use Land cover Reconstructions Uncertainty Global 

Supplementary material

10980_2013_9877_MOESM1_ESM.docx (106 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 106 kb)

References

  1. Betts RA, Falloon PD, Klein Goldewijk K, Ramankutty N (2007) Biogeophysical effects of land use on climate: model simulations of radiative forcing and large-scale temperature change. Agric For Meteorol 142(2–4):216–233Google Scholar
  2. Boserup E (1965) The conditions of agricultural growth. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Brovkin V, Claussen M, Driesschaert E, Fichefet T, Kicklighter D, Loutre MF, Matthews HD, Ramankutty N, Schaeffer M, Sokolov A (2006) Biogeophysical effects of historical land cover changes simulated by six Earth system models of intermediate complexity. Clim Dyn 26(6):587–600Google Scholar
  4. Chao S (1986) Man and land in chinese history. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Claussen M, Brovkin V, Ganopolski A (2001) Biophysical versus biogeochemical feedbacks of large-scale land cover change. Geophys Res Lett 28(6):1011–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. de Noblet-Ducroudre N, Pitman A (2007) LUCID—land-use and climate, identification of robust impacts. ILEAPS Newslett 46–47Google Scholar
  7. de Noblet-Ducroudre N, Boisier J-P, Pitman A, Bonan GB, Brovkin V, Cruz FT, Delire C, Gayler V, van den Hurk BJJM, Lawrence PJ, Van Der Molen MK, Mueller C, Reick CH, Strengers BJ, Voldoire A (2011) Determining robust impacts of land-use induced land-cover changes on surface climate over North America and Eurasia; results from the first set of LUCID experiments. J Clim 46–47Google Scholar
  8. DeFries RS, Rudel T, Uriarte M, Hansen MC (2010) Deforestation driven by population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century. Nat Geosci 3(3):178–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diamond J (1997) Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Eckhardt K, Breuer L, Frede HG (2003) Parameter uncertainty and the significance of simulated land use change effects. J Hydrol 273:164–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ehrlig P, Ehrlich A, Daily GC (1993) Food security, population, and environment. Pop Dev Rev 19(1993):1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellis EC, Klein Goldewijk K, Siebert S, Lightman D, Ramankutty N (2010) Anthropogenic transformation of the biomes, 1700 to 2000. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 19(5):589–606Google Scholar
  13. FAO (2008) FAOSTAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy (http://www.fao.org)
  14. Friedlingstein P, Houghton R, Marland G, Hackler J, Boden T, Conway T, Canadell J, Raupach M, Ciais P, Le Quéré C (2010) Update on CO2 emissions. Nat Geosci 3:811–812Google Scholar
  15. Fritschle JA (2009) Pre-EuroAmerican settlement forests in Redwood National Park, California, USA: a reconstruction using line summaries in historic land surveys. Landscape Ecol 24(6):833–847Google Scholar
  16. Gadd C-J (2011) The agricultural revoluation in Sweden, 1700–1870. In: Myrdal J, Morell M (eds) The agrarian history of Sweden, 1st edn. Nordic Academic Press, Lund, pp. 118–164Google Scholar
  17. Gaillard M-J, Sugita S, Mazier F, Kaplan JO, Trondman A-K, Brostroem A, Hickler T, Kjellstroem E, Kunes P, Lemmen C, Olofsson J, Smith B, Strandberg G (2010) Holocene land-cover reconstructions for studies on land-cover feedbacks. Clim Past Discus 6:307–346Google Scholar
  18. Geist HJ, Lambin EF (2002) Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation. Bioscience 52(2):143–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gerard F, Petit S, Smith G, Thomson A, Brown N, Manchester S, Wadsworth R, Bugar G, Halada L, Bezík P, Boltiziar M, De badts E, Halabuk A, Mojses M, Petrovic F, Gregor M, Hazeu G, Moecher CA, Wachowicz M, Huitu H, Tuominen S, Koehler R, Olschofsky K, Ziese H, Kolar J, Sustera J, Luque S, Pino J, Pons X, Roda F, Roscher M, Feranec J (2010) Land cover change in Europe between 1950 and 2000 determined employing aerial photography. Prog Phys Geogr 34(2):183–205Google Scholar
  20. Gimmi U, Lachat T, Buergi M (2011) Reconstructing the collapse of wetland networks in the Swiss lowlands 1850–2000. Landscape Ecol 26(8):1071–1083CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gregg SA (1988) Foragers and farmers: population interaction and agricultural expansion in prehistoric Europe. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  22. Grigg DB (1979) Ester Boserup’s theory of agrarian change: a critical review. Prog Hum Geogr 3(1):64–84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grubler A (1994) Technology. In: Meyer WB, Turner II BL (eds) Changes in land use and land cover. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 287–328Google Scholar
  24. Gustavsson E, Lennartsson T (2007) Land use more than 200 years ago explains current grassland plant diversity in a Swedish agricultural landscape. Biol Conserv 138(1–2):47–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Houghton RA, Hackler JL (2002) Carbon flux to the atmosphere from land-use changes: 1850 to 1990. ORNL/CDIAC-131, NDP-050/R1 (http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ndps/ndp050.html). Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A., 86 pp
  26. Houghton RA, Hackler JL, Lawrence KT (1999) The U.S. carbon budget: contributions from land-use change. Science 285(5427):574–578Google Scholar
  27. Houghton RA, Hobbie JE, Melillo JM, Moore B, Peterson BJ, Shaver GR, Woodwell GM (1983) Changes in the carbon content of terrestrial biota and soils between 1860 and 1980: a net release of CO2 to the atmosphere. Ecol Monogr 53(3):236–262Google Scholar
  28. Hurtt GC, Chini LP, Frolking S, Betts R, Feddema JJ, Fischer G, Hibbard KA, Janetos AC, Jones C, Klein Goldewijk K, Kindermann G, Kinoshita T, Riahi K, Shevliakova E, Smith S, Stehfest E, Thomson A, Thornton P, van Vuuren D, Wang YP (2011) Harmonization of land-use scenarios for the period 1500–2100: 600 years of global gridded annual land-use transitions, wood harvest, and resulting secondary lands. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0153-2
  29. Kaplan JO, Krunhardt KM, Zimmermann N (2009) The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe. Quatern Sci Rev 28(27–28):3016–3034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kaplan JO, Krumhardt KM, Ellis EC, Ruddiman WF, Lemmen C, Klein Goldewijk K (2010) Holocene carbon emissions as a result of anthropogenic land cover change. Holocene 20(8). doi:10.1177/0959683610386983
  31. Kern DC, D’Aguino G, Rodrigues T, Frazao F, Sombroek W, Myers T, Neves E (eds) (2003) Distribution of Amazonian Dark Earths in the Brazilian Amazon. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  32. Keys E, McConnell JR (2005) Global change and the intensification of agriculture in the tropics. Glob Environ Change 15(4):320–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Klein Goldewijk K, Beusen A, Janssen P (2010) Long term dynamic modeling of global population and built-up area in a spatially explicit way: HYDE 3.1. Holocene 20(4):565–573Google Scholar
  34. Klein Goldewijk K, Beusen A, van Drecht G, de Vos M (2011) The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human induced land use change over the past 12,000 years. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 20(1). doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00587.x
  35. Kok K (2004) The role of population in understanding Honduran land use patterns. J Environ Manage 72(2004):73–89PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kok K, Veldkamp A (2001) Evaluating impact of spatial scales on land use pattern analysis in Central America. Agric Ecosyst Environ 85(2001):205–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lahmeyer J (2004) Populstat database, growth of the population per country in a historical perspective, including their administrative divisions and principal towns. Nat Geosci. doi:10.1038/ngeo689
  38. Larocque G, Bhatti J, Boutin R, Chertov O (2008) Uncertainty analysis in carbon cycle models of forest ecosystems: research needs and development of a theoretical framework to estimate error propagation. Ecol Model 219(3–4):400–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Le Quéré C, Raupach MR, Canadell JG, Marland G, Bopp L, Ciais P, Conway TJ, Doney SC, Feely RA, Foster P, Friedlingstein P, Gurney K, Houghton RA, House JI, Huntingford C, Levy PE, Lomas MR, Majkut J, Metzl N, Ometto JP, Peters GP, Prentice IC, Randerson JT, Running SW, Sarmiento JL, Schuster U, Sitch S, Takahashi T, Viovy N, Van Der Werf GR, Woodward FI (2009) Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide. Nat Geosci 2(12):831–836Google Scholar
  40. Livi-Bacci M (2007) A concise history of world population, 4th edn. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  41. Maddison A (2001) The world economy: a millennial perspective. OECD, Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  42. Matott LS, Babendreier JE, Purucker ST (2009) Evaluating uncertainty in integrated environmental models: a review of concepts and tools. Water Resour Res 45(6):W06421Google Scholar
  43. McEvedy C, Jones R (1978) World Atlas of population history. Penguin Books Ltd., Hammondsworth, UKGoogle Scholar
  44. Myrdal J (2011) Farming and feudalism, 1000–1700. In Myrdal J, Morell M (eds) The agrarian history of Sweden, 1st edn. Nordic Academic Press, Lund, pp. 72–117Google Scholar
  45. Netting R (1993) Smallholders, householders: Farm families and the ecology of intensive, sustainable agriculture. Stanford Universtiy Press, Standford, CalifGoogle Scholar
  46. Olofsson J, Hickler T (2008) Effects of human land-use on the global carbon cycle during the last 6,000 years. Veget Hist Archaeobot 17(5):605–615Google Scholar
  47. Peng C, Guiot J, Wu H, Jiang H, Luo Y (2011) Integrating models with data in ecology and palaeoecology: advances towards a model–data fusion approach. Ecol Lett 14(5):522–536Google Scholar
  48. Pielke R Sr, Pitman A, Niyogi D, Mahmood R, McAlpine C, Hossain F, Klein Goldewijk K, Nair U, Betts R, Fall S, Reichstein M, Kabat P (2011) Land use/land cover changes and climate: modeling analysis and observational evidence. WIREs Clim Change 2(6):828–850Google Scholar
  49. Pitman AJ, Narisma GT, Pielke Sr RA, Holbrook NJ (2004) Impact of land cover change on the climate of southwest Western Australia. J Geophys Res D 109(18)Google Scholar
  50. Pitman AJ, De Noblet-Ducoudre N, Cruz FT, Davin EL, Bonan GB, Brovkin V, Claussen M, Delire C, Ganzeveld L, Gayler V, Van Den Hurk BJJM, Lawrence PJ, Van Der Molen MK, Mueller C, Reick CH, Seneviratne SI, Strengen BJ, Voldoire A (2009) Uncertainties in climate responses to past land cover change: First results from the LUCID intercomparison study. Geophys Res Lett 36(14)Google Scholar
  51. Pongratz J, Reick C, Raddatz T, Claussen M (2008) A reconstruction of global agricultural areas and land cover for the last millennium. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 22(3)Google Scholar
  52. Pongratz J, Caldeira K, Reick C, Claussen M (2011a) Coupled climate-carbon simulations indicate minor global effects of wars and epidemics on atmospheric CO2 between ad 800 and 1850. Holocene 21(5):843–851Google Scholar
  53. Pongratz J, Reick CH, Raddatz T, Caldeira K, Claussen M (2011b) Past land use decisions have increased mitigation potential of reforestation. Geophys Res Lett 38(15):L15701Google Scholar
  54. Pontius RG, Petrova SH (2010) Assessing a predictive model of land change using uncertain data. Environ Modell Softw 25(3):299–309Google Scholar
  55. Pontius RG, Agrawal A, Huffaker D (2003) Estimating the uncertainty of land-cover extrapolations while constructing a raster map from tabular data. Geograph Syst 5(3):253–273Google Scholar
  56. Potere D, Schneider A (2007) A critical look at representations of urban areas in global maps. GeoJournal 69(1–2):55–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ramankutty N, Foley JA (1999) Estimating historical changes in global land cover: croplands from 1700 to 1992. Global Biogeochem Cycles 13(4):997–1027Google Scholar
  58. Refsgaard JC, van der Sluijs JP, Hoejberg AL, Vanrolleghem PA (2007) Uncertainty in the environmental modelling process—A framework and guidance. Environ Modell Softw 22:1543–1556Google Scholar
  59. Rhemtulla JM, Mladenoff DJ (2007) Why history matters in landscape ecology. Landscape Ecol 22(SUPPL 1):1–3Google Scholar
  60. Rhemtulla JM, Mladenoff DJ, Clayton MK (2009) Legacies of historical land use on regional forest composition and structure in Wisconsin, USA (mid-1800s-1930s-2000s). Ecol Appl 19(4):1061–1078Google Scholar
  61. Richards JF (1990) Land transformation. In: Turner BLea (ed) The Earth as transformed by human action. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 163-178Google Scholar
  62. Ruddiman WF, Ellis EC (2009) Effect of per-capita land use changes on Holocene forest clearance and CO2 emissions. Quatern Sci Rev 28(27–28):3011–3015Google Scholar
  63. Schneider R, Friedl MA, Potere D (2009) A new map of global urban extent from MODIS satellite data. Environ Res Lett 4(044003):11Google Scholar
  64. Schulp CJE, Verburg PH (2009) Effect of land use history and site factors on spatial variation of soil organic carbon across a physiographic region. Agric Ecosyst Environ 133(1–2):86–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stocker BD, Strassmann K, Joos F (2011) Sensitivity of Holocene atmospheric CO2 and the modern carbon budget to early human land use: analyses with a process-based model. Biogeosciences 8(1):69–88Google Scholar
  66. Strassmann KM, Joos F, Fischer G (2008) Simulating effects of land use changes on carbon fluxes: past contributions to atmospheric CO2 increases and future commitments due to losses of terrestrial sink capacity. Tellus B 60(4):583–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. UN (2009) World population prospects, the 2008 revision. United Nations Population Division, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  68. van Asselt MBA, Rotmans J (2002) Uncertainty in integrated assessment modelling. From positivism to pluralism. Climatic Change 54(1–2):75–105Google Scholar
  69. Verburg PH, Chen Y (2000) Multiscale characterization of land-use patterns in China. Ecosystems 3(4):369–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Verburg PH, Tabeau A, Hatna E (2012) Assessing spatial uncertainties of land allocation using a scenario approach and sensitivity analysis: a study for land use in Europe. J Environ Manag. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.08.038
  71. Walker W, Harremoes P, Rotmans J, Van der Sluijs JP, Van Asselt MBA, Janssen P, Krayer von Krauss MP (2003) Defining uncertainty: a conceptual basis for uncertainty management in model-based decision support. Integr Assess 4(1):5–17Google Scholar
  72. Welinder S (2011) Early farming households, 3900–800 BC. In: Myrdal J, Morell M (eds) The agrarian history of Sweden, 1st edn. Nordic Academic Press, Lund, pp 18–45Google Scholar
  73. Zhou W, Huang G, Pickett STA, Cadenasso ML (2011) 90 years of forest cover change in an urbanizing watershed: spatial and temporal dynamics. Landscape Ecol 1–15:645–659Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment AgencyBilthovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, Institute for History and Culture (OGC)Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for Environmental StudiesVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations