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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2017-51
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2017-51
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 28 Mar 2017

Research article | 28 Mar 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

Analysing the sensitivity of pollen based land-cover maps to different auxiliary variables

Behnaz Pirzamanbein1,2, Anneli Poska3,4, and Johan Lindström1 Behnaz Pirzamanbein et al.
  • 1Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Lund University, Sweden
  • 2Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, Lund University, Sweden
  • 3Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, Lund University, Sweden
  • 4Institute of Geology, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Abstract. Realistic depictions of past land cover are needed to investigate prehistoric environmental changes and anthropogenic impacts. However, observation based reconstructions of past land cover are rare. Recently Pirzamanbein et al. (2015, arXiv:1511.06417) developed a statistical interpolation method that produces spatially complete reconstructions of past land cover from pollen assemblage. These reconstructions incorporate a number of auxiliary datasets raising questions regarding both the method's sensitivity to the choice of auxiliary data and the unaffected transmission of observational data.

Here the sensitivity of the method is examined by performing spatial reconstructions for northern Europe during three time periods (1900 CE, 1725 CE and 4000 BCE), based on irregularly distributed pollen based land cover, available for ca. 25 % of the area, and different auxiliary datasets. The spatially explicit auxiliary datasets considered include the most commonly utilized sources of the past land-cover data – estimates produced by a dynamic vegetation (DVM) and anthropogenic land-cover change (ALCC) models – and modern elevation. Five different auxiliary datasets were considered, including different climate data driving the DVM and different ALCC models. The resulting reconstructions were evaluated using deviance information criteria and cross validation for all the time periods. For the recent time period, 1900 CE, the different land-cover reconstructions were also compared against a present day forest map.

The tests confirm that the developed statistical model provides a robust spatial interpolation tool with low sensitivity to differences in auxiliary data and high capacity to un-distortedly transmit the information provided by sparse pollen based observations. Further, usage of auxiliary data with high spatial detail improves the model performance for the areas with complex topography or where observational data is missing.

Behnaz Pirzamanbein et al.
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Behnaz Pirzamanbein et al.
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Short summary
Realistic maps of past land cover needed to study environmental changes and human impacts are rare. A recent statistical method, Pirzamanbein et al. (2015), produces continuous maps of past land cover from pollen assemblage. These maps incorporate auxiliary data raising questions regarding both the method's sensitivity to the choice of auxiliary data and the unaffected transmission of observational data. In this paper, the sensitivity of the method is examined. The tests confirm robust results.
Realistic maps of past land cover needed to study environmental changes and human impacts are...
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