LandCover6k scientific goals

Overarching goals

The overarching goal of LandCover6k is to produce new datasets of anthropogenic land-cover change (ALCC) for climate modeling. We expect that these new ALCC datasets will provide the means for climate modelers to improve their descriptions of land cover in paleoclimate modeling studies.

In turn, this would then improve the understanding of land cover-climate interactions in the past using climate modeling, and projections of climate change in the future under different anthropogenic land-cover change scenarios.
This work will be conducted by paleoecologists, historians, archeologists and ALCC modelers in close dialogue with climate modelers.

Main objectives

To achieve these goals, LandCover6k's main objective will be to evaluate the HYDE and KK ALCC scenarios for key world regions (in terms of size and human impact on vegetation cover over the last 6k to 10k yrs); these include e.g.China, India, E Africa, W Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

LandCover6k includes three integrated activities:

i) Land cover - i.e. reconstruction of land cover using pollen data,

ii) Land use - i.e. reconstructions of land use on the basis of archeological and historical data including related paleoecological data such as pollen, plant macrofossil, and phytoliths data, and

iii) ALCC - i.e. developing the Anthropogenic Land Cover Changes (ALCC) scenarios KK and HYDE using i) and ii).

Specifically, this will involve the following:

Land Cover:

Developing the tools needed to produce pollen-based quantitative reconstructions of past land cover using the REVEALS model, similar to those that already exist for NW Europe (Fyfe et al., 2014, Trondman et al., 2014; Pirzamanbin et al., 2014; Sugita, 2007). This will involve developing pollen databases and estimating the pollen productivities and fall speeds of major plant taxa.

2. Achieving as many REVEALS reconstructions as possible within the working group's lifespan.

3. Developing other pollen-based reconstructions of land cover using Modern Analogue Techniques (MATs)

4. Producing maps of REVEALS estimates

5. Producing continuous land-cover maps using sophisticated spatial statistics to interpolate the pollen-based REVEALS and MAT land-cover estimates (see e.g. Pirzamanbein et al., 2014)

Land Use:

1. Developing a system of broad land-use systems for the globe

2. Categorizing (upscaling) archeological and historical data according to the system developed under 1.

3. Producing LAND USE maps using 2.


Phase  1 - Implementation and outputs

The overall coordination of LandCover6k is the responsibility of Marie-José Gaillard and a Steering Group. The group is organized into three main activities:

1) Land Cover (pollen-based reconstructions of vegetation cover)
Coordinator: Marie-José Gaillard

2) Land Use
Coordinator: Kathleen Morrison and Sub-coordinators: Carsten Lemmen and Nicki Whitehouse

3) Anthropogenic Land Cover Change modeling
Coordinators: Jed O Kaplan, Kees Klein Goldewijk, and Carsten Lemmen

At the next level LandCover6k is organised into 9 subgroups. For the list of subgroup coordinators please see the People page.


Land Cover: Modern Analog Technique (MAT) and REVEALS model (Sugita, 2007) (complemented for REVEALS with spatial statistical modeling for interpolation between the grid-based REVEALS estimates).

Land Use: Categorization of land-use systems and aggregation/upscaling of archeological and historical data.


For three priority time-windows of the Holocene: 6k, 0.45k (AD 1500) and 0.1k cal. BP (AD 1850):

- Pollen-based land-cover reconstructions / maps from key regions of all continents at a spatial resolution of 1˚x1˚ (or less)

- Global land-use maps based on archeological and historical data, at high resolution

- First revision of ALCC (Anthropogenic Land-Cover Change) scenarios (KK and HYDE)


For information about proposed and upcoming workshops and meetings please refer to the LandCover6k intro page.