We have been alerted to a new paper on land use/land cover change over time [thnaks to Dev Niyogi for alerting us to this!]. The paper is
Kees Klein Goldewijk, Arthur Beusen, Gerard Van Drecht, Martine De Vos, 2010: The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human-induced global land-use change over the past 12,000 years
10 SEP 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00587.x
The abstract reads
Aim This paper presents a tool for long-term global change studies; it is an update of the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) with estimates of some of the underlying demographic and agricultural driving factors.
Methods Historical population, cropland and pasture statistics are combined with satellite information and specific allocation algorithms (which change over time) to create spatially explicit maps, which are fully consistent on a 5′ longitude/latitude grid resolution, and cover the period 10,000 bc to ad 2000.
Results Cropland occupied roughly less than 1% of the global ice-free land area for a long time until ad 1000, similar to the area used for pasture. In the centuries that followed, the share of global cropland increased to 2% in ad 1700 (c. 3 million km2) and 11% in ad 2000 (15 million km2), while the share of pasture area grew from 2% in ad 1700 to 24% in ad 2000 (34 million km2) These profound land-use changes have had, and will continue to have, quite considerable consequences for global biogeochemical cycles, and subsequently global climate change.
Main conclusions Some researchers suggest that humans have shifted from living in the Holocene (emergence of agriculture) into the Anthropocene (humans capable of changing the Earth’s atmosphere) since the start of the Industrial Revolution. But in the light of the sheer size and magnitude of some historical land-use changes (e.g. as result of the depopulation of Europe due to the Black Death in the 14th century and the aftermath of the colonization of the Americas in the 16th century) we believe that this point might have occurred earlier in time. While there are still many uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge about the importance of land use (change) in the global biogeochemical cycle, we hope that this database can help global (climate) change modellers to close parts of this gap.”
As they write in the conclusions
“Although the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) revealed many new insights and facts about the Earth system, there are still many uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge.We hope that this study can help modellers to close parts of this gap.”
This paper builds on the research we summarized in our papers
Pielke Sr., R.A., G. Marland, R.A. Betts, T.N. Chase, J.L. Eastman, J.O. Niles, D. Niyogi, and S. Running, 2002: The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system- relevance to climate change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases. Phil. Trans. A. Special Theme Issue, 360, 1705-1719.
Marland, G., R.A. Pielke, Sr., M. Apps, R. Avissar, R.A. Betts, K.J. Davis, P.C. Frumhoff, S.T. Jackson, L. Joyce, P. Kauppi, J. Katzenberger, K.G. MacDicken, R. Neilson, J.O. Niles, D. dutta S. Niyogi, R.J. Norby, N. Pena, N. Sampson, and Y. Xue, 2003: The climatic impacts of land surface change and carbon management, and the implications for climate-change mitigation policy. Climate Policy, 3, 149-157.
In the Pielke et al 2002 paper, in section 2 we reviewed the data available to assess land cover/land change over time. The new Klein Goldewijk et al paper is a very important new addition to this information. Their statement that
“These profound land-use changes have had, and will continue to have, quite considerable consequences for global biogeochemical cycles, and subsequently global climate change.”
is a message we emphasized in our paper
Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.