Quaife, T, Quegan, S, Disney, M, Lewis, P, Lomas, M, Woodward, FI (2008). Impact of land cover uncertainties on estimates of biospheric carbon fluxes. GLOBAL BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, 22(4), GB4016.
Large-scale bottom-up estimates of terrestrial carbon fluxes, whether based on models or inventory, are highly dependent on the assumed land cover. Most current land cover and land cover change maps are based on satellite data and are likely to be so for the foreseeable future. However, these maps show large differences, both at the class level and when transformed into Plant Functional Types (PFTs), and these can lead to large differences in terrestrial CO2 fluxes estimated by Dynamic Vegetation Models. In this study the Sheffield Dynamic Global Vegetation Model is used. We compare PFT maps and the resulting fluxes arising from the use of widely available moderate (1 km) resolution satellite-derived land cover maps (the Global Land Cover 2000 and several MODIS classification schemes), with fluxes calculated using a reference high (25 m) resolution land cover map specific to Great Britain (the Land Cover Map 2000). We demonstrate that uncertainty is introduced into carbon flux calculations by (1) incorrect or uncertain assignment of land cover classes to PFTs; (2) information loss at coarser resolutions; (3) difficulty in discriminating some vegetation types from satellite data. When averaged over Great Britain, modeled CO2 fluxes derived using the different 1 km resolution maps differ from estimates made using the reference map. The ranges of these differences are 254 gC m(-2) a(-1) in Gross Primary Production (GPP); 133 gC m(-2) a(-1) in Net Primary Production (NPP); and 43 gC m(-2) a(-1) in Net Ecosystem Production (NEP). In GPP this accounts for differences of -15.8% to 8.8%. Results for living biomass exhibit a range of 1109 gC m(-2). The types of uncertainties due to land cover confusion are likely to be representative of many parts of the world, especially heterogeneous landscapes such as those found in western Europe.