Spatially-explicit state-and-transition simulation models of land use and land cover (LULC) increase our ability to assess regional landscape characteristics and associated carbon dynamics across multiple scenarios. By characterizing appropriate spatial attributes such as forest age and land-use distribution, a state-and-transition model can more effectively simulate the pattern and spread of LULC changes. This manuscript describes the methods and input parameters of the Land Use and Carbon Scenario Simulator (LUCAS), a customized state-and-transition simulation model utilized to assess the relative impacts of LULC on carbon stocks for the conterminous U.S. The methods and input parameters are spatially explicit and describe initial conditions (strata, state classes and forest age), spatial multipliers, and carbon stock density. Initial conditions were derived from harmonization of multi-temporal data characterizing changes in land use as well as land cover. Harmonization combines numerous national-level datasets through a cell-based data fusion process to generate maps of primary LULC categories. Forest age was parameterized using data from the North American Carbon Program and spatially-explicit maps showing the locations of past disturbances (i.e. wildfire and harvest). Spatial multipliers were developed to spatially constrain the location of future LULC transitions. Based on distance-decay theory, maps were generated to guide the placement of changes related to forest harvest, agricultural intensification/extensification, and urbanization. We analyze the spatially-explicit input parameters with a sensitivity analysis, by showing how LUCAS responds to variations in the model input. This manuscript uses Mediterranean California as a regional subset to highlight local to regional aspects of land change, which demonstrates the utility of LUCAS at many scales and applications.
- Digital Object Identifier: 10.3934/environsci.2015.3.668
- Source: USGS Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70150464)