04 Oct 2022
 | 04 Oct 2022

Mapping of ESA-CCI land cover data to plant functional types for use in the CLASSIC land model

Libo Wang, Vivek K. Arora, Paul Bartlett, Ed Chan, and Salvatore R. Curasi

Abstract. Plant functional types (PFTs) are used to represent vegetation distribution in land surface models (LSMs). Large differences are found in the geographical distribution of PFTs currently used in various LSMs. These differences arise from the differences in the underlying land cover products but also the methods used to map or reclassify land cover data to the PFTs that a given LSM represents. There are large uncertainties associated with existing PFT mapping methods since they are largely based on expert judgment and therefore are subjective. In this study, we propose a new approach to inform the mapping or the cross-walking process using analyses from sub-pixel fractional error matrices, which allows for a quantitative assessment of the fractional composition of the land cover categories in a dataset. We use the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) land cover product produced by the European Space Agency (ESA). A previous study has shown that compared to fine-resolution maps over Canada, the ESA-CCI product provides an improved land cover distribution compared to that from the GLC2000 dataset currently used in the CLASSIC (Canadian Land Surface Scheme Including Biogeochemical Cycles) model. A tree cover fraction dataset and a fine-resolution land cover map over Canada are used to compute the sub-pixel fractional composition of the land cover classes in ESA-CCI, which is then used to create a cross-walking table for mapping the ESA-CCI land cover categories to nine PFTs represented in the CLASSIC model. There are large differences between the new PFTs and those currently used in the model. Offline simulations performed with the CLASSIC model using the ESA-CCI based PFTs show improved winter albedo compared to that based on the GLC2000 dataset. This emphasizes the importance of accurate representation of vegetation distribution for realistic simulation of surface albedo in LSMs. Results in this study suggest that the sub-pixel fractional composition analyses are an effective way to reduce uncertainties in the PFT mapping process and therefore, to some extent, objectify the otherwise subjective process.

Libo Wang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-923', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Dec 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-923', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Jan 2023

Libo Wang et al.

Libo Wang et al.


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Short summary
Plant functional types (PFTs) are groups of plant species used to represent vegetation distribution in land surface models. There are large uncertainties associated with existing methods for mapping land cover datasets to PFTs. This study demonstrates how fine-resolution tree cover fraction and land cover datasets can be used to inform the PFT mapping process and reduce the uncertainties. The proposed largely objective method makes it easier to implement new land cover products in models.