Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Historical land use datasets

One of the first attempts to compile historical land use datasets is Ramankutty and Foley (1999), who focus on the fraction of areas used for agricultural cultivation at each of the 5 by 5 arc-minute cells across the world.

  • Downloadable at here.
  • The sample period: 1700-1992
  • The 1992 data is based on their own 1992 Croplands Dataset, with a few revisions (see section 2 of the paper)
  • Using historical cropland area statistics at the national level (or at the subnational level for 8 large countries) from FAOSTAT and other sources, the 1992 data is then extrapolated backwards.
  • The extrapolation assumes that the spatial distribution of cropland within a country (or a sub-national region where historical data is available) has remained the same throughout the sample period.

There are several subsequent attempts to improve historical land use data. Below are a few examples:

  • Pongratz et al. (2008), for example, extend the analysis back to 800 by using historical population data.
  • Meiyappan and Jain (2012) start with the construction of the land cover map for the year 1765 and then estimate land use change in subsequent years, with satellite data used for validation over the past few decades.
  • HYDE 3.1 (Click the link to jump to another post in this blog)

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