19 Jul 2023
 | 19 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Microclimate mapping using novel radiative transfer modelling

Florian Zellweger, Eric Sulmoni, Johanna T. Malle, Andri Baltensweiler, Tobias Jonas, Niklaus E. Zimmermann, Christian Ginzler, Dirk N. Karger, Pieter De Frenne, David Frey, and Clare Webster

Abstract. Climate data matching the scales at which organisms experience climatic conditions are often missing. Yet, such data on microclimatic conditions are required to better understand climate change impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Here we combine a network of microclimate temperature measurements across different habitats and vertical heights with a novel radiative transfer model to map daily temperatures during the vegetation period at 10 meter spatial resolution across Switzerland. Our data reveals strong horizontal and vertical variability in microclimate temperature, particularly for maximum temperatures at 5 cm above the ground and within the topsoil. Compared to macroclimate conditions as measured by weather stations outside forests, diurnal air and topsoil temperature ranges inside forests were reduced by up to 3.0 and 7.8 °C, respectively, while below trees outside forests, e.g. in hedges and below solitary trees, this buffering effect was 1.8 and 7.2 °C. We also found that in open grasslands, maximum temperatures at 5 cm above ground are on average 3.4 °C warmer than that of macroclimate, suggesting that in such habitats heat exposure close to the ground is often underestimated when using macroclimatic data. Spatial interpolation was achieved by using a hybrid approach based on linear mixed effects models with input from detailed radiation estimates that account for topographic and vegetation shading, as well as other predictor variables related to the macroclimate, topography and vegetation height. After accounting for macroclimate effects, microclimate patterns were primarily driven by radiation, with particularly strong effects on maximum temperatures. Results from spatial block cross-validation revealed predictive accuracies as measured by RSME’s ranging from 1.18 to 3.43 °C, with minimum temperatures generally being predicted more accurately than maximum temperatures. The microclimate mapping methodology presented here enables a more biologically relevant perspective when analysing climate-species interactions, which is expected to lead to a better understanding of biotic and ecosystem responses to climate and land use change.

Florian Zellweger et al.

Status: open (until 28 Sep 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1549', Ilya Maclean, 23 Jul 2023 reply
  • CC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1549', MIchael Kearney, 27 Aug 2023 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1549', Jonas Lembrechts, 29 Aug 2023 reply

Florian Zellweger et al.

Florian Zellweger et al.


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Short summary
The microclimatic conditions experienced by organisms living close to the ground are not well represented in currently used climate datasets derived from weather stations. Therefore, we measured and mapped ground microclimate temperatures at 10 meter spatial resolution across Switzerland, using a novel radiation model. Our results reveal a high variability in microclimates across different habitats and will help to better understand climate and land use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems.