Spatial Land Use Modeling

Land use change (LUC) is one of the most impactful climate forcings that impact global warming and how the climate system changes. LUC describes the ways in which people have developed land to impact the Earth System. Primarily this refers to agricultural land use such as cultivating cropland and pastureland at a global scale (about 40% of Earth’s land area). LUC models are important to incorporate into Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) because they provide a more accurate depiction of how the Earth System changes. This approach allows for a better prediction of how socioeconomic and biophysical determinants of LUC interact and will change over time. While IAMs have generally been successful, they focus on a regional’s scale. Global scale modeling is necessary to understand the evolution of agricultural land use on the climate. Currently, global-scale modeling tools fail to incorporate the impact of positive socio-economic advancements in combating anthropogenic climate change. Using agent based models such as the agent functional type (AFT) method help to bridge the gap between socio-economics and the natural sciences. The lack of this integration leads to inaccurate simulations of LUC patterns and allows us to better understand how important the impact of humans is to the Earth System. Global land use models will be vital to the understanding and implementation of mitigation strategies such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The large-scale behavioural models of land use change working group is a joint venture between the AIMES project and the Global Land Programme. In linking two Global Research Projects of the Future Earth network, the group aims to support and benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration across scientific disciplines. The group researches a wide range of perspectives and members with interests in any aspects of human, individual and collective behaviour in land system models, some of which have been presented in the following webinar series. The GLP/AIMES Working Group on Large-scale Behavioural Models of Land Use Change the first webinar of their new series on November 13, 2020. The second webinar was held in April 2021 to discuss exciting new advances in social simulation and computational modelling that can support better representation of human behaviour in the land system.

LUC WEBINAR #1: Is the idea of large-scale behavioural modelling realistic?

Speaker: Dr. Peter Verburg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Date aired: 13 November 2020

About: In this webinar you will hear about research efforts led by Dr. Peter Verburg that are pushing the bounds of modelling to represent human decision-making at continental and global extents. You will also be introduced to novel psychological frameworks developed by Dr. Elke Weber that could help make this possible and reveal new challenges. Together, their work provides new insights into large-scale behavioural modelling of land use change. The webinar concludes with a discussion of the reasons for developing such models, key issues that need to be considered in their design, and approaches that have particular promise for producing a new generation of models.


LUC Webinar #2: What can land use modellers learn from other disciplines?

Speaker: Robert Axtell (George Mason University), Brian Mac Namee (University College Dublin), Thomas Clemen (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences)

Date aired: April 30, 2021

About: First, Robert Axtell presented new work on large-scale agent based models in social science. Second, Brian Mac Namee described the use of machine learning and ABM in computer game design. Third, Thomas Clemen presented a simulation platform capable of modelling vast multi-agent systems.

The webinar concluded with a discussion among presenters and attendees about how these advances can be used to develop a new generation of land system science models.

Want to learn more?

If you are interested in spatial land use modeling, take a look at our webpage for the Large Scale Behavioural Models of Land Use Change Working Group. You’ll find our objectives and goals, news, upcoming events, as well as recent developments in the field.