National land use projections

Science Center Objects

A major scientific challenge in global change research is connecting coarse-scale global assessments, particularly those involving the projection of land use, to scales relevant and useful for analysis and management. We have downscaled land use projections from two global scenario frameworks, the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES), and the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Furthermore, we have developed preliminary land-use projections based on a business-as-usual scenario.


Conceptual diagram of major components used to downscale IPCC-SRES scenarios.

Conceptual diagram of major components used to downscale IPCC-SRES scenarios.
(Public domain.)

SRES Projections

We downscaled IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) land-use scenarios to ecological regions of the U.S. using an integrated assessment model, land-use histories, and expert knowledge.

Downscaled projections span a wide range of future potential conditions across sixteen land use/land cover sectors and 84 ecological regions, and are logically consistent with both historical measurements and SRES characteristics.

Results provide a credible solution for connecting regionalized projections of land use and land cover with existing downscaled climate scenarios, under a common set of scenario-based socioeconomic assumptions.

RCP Projections

Study site - ecoregions in the Pacific Northwest

Study area - ecoregions in the Pacific Northwest
(Public domain.)

The Representative concentration pathways (RCPs) are the latest set of climate scenarios used for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The RCPs are a set of trajectories of land use, air pollutants, and greenhouse gas levels leading to total radiative forcing targets of 2.6, 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5 in W/m2 in the year 2100.

Unlike the SRES scenarios, global RCP projections were designed to include land-use trajectories. Harmonized annual land-use transitions between 2005 and 2100 at 0.5 × 0.5 degree grid cells are available from Hurtt et al. While LULC transition values at this resolution may be suitable for global modeling efforts, local to regional scale land-use modeling often requires RCP LULC transition values summarized at the regional or national scale.

We aggregated RCP transition cells to the ecoregion scale after first employing three methods for downscaling land-use transition values according to ecoregion boundaries. These methods facilitate the use of RCP land-use scenarios within the LUCAS model for a range of scales and models.

BAU Projections

Coming soon…

For more information visit the Land Use and Climate Change Team website.